As a four-time Paralympic Games medalist and World Cup champion in Super G competition, U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Chris Devlin-Young has proven opportunities for athletes with disabilities are unlimited.
In 1982, Devlin-Young was on a Coast Guard mission in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands when his plane crashed into a mountain. He suffered irreversible spinal trauma as he attempted to save his fellow crewmembers from the burning wreckage. In 1987, he participated in the First National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Twenty-five years later, he is a world renowned athlete, a mentor and an inspiration to others.
“My goal is to help others with disabilities to realize their potential,” said Devlin-Young. “Adaptive sports pushed me to be healthy – mentally and physically – and to stay in front of the ravages of the disability.”
He credits the experience he had at the first Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic for changing his life for the better. Before the clinic he was a self-described angry, bitter young man. After, he found new focus, confidence and determination to not just live life, but to thrive in the challenges.
Today, he continues to train and compete on the slopes around the world. When he’s not skiing, he focuses on removing barriers for disabled athletes and making the sport more accessible and safe for the disabled.
Health Net will host Devlin-Young as a guest ambassador at 2011 National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic. During which, he will serve as a mentor and role model to Veterans with disabilities as they learn more about adaptive sports.
“I can identify with the Vets here. I can share with them my story and my journey to becoming a world champion,” said Devlin-Young. “I’m here to help steer and mentor my fellow Veterans, and also work with clinicians, trainers and volunteers.”
“Because I’ve been doing this for so long, I know a ton of people who compete, as well as manufacturer reps for adaptive sports equipment. There are people out there willing to help. There is so much fun to be had,” he said. “Learn a sport, get outside and play. Before you know it, you will be hooked. The troubles of the disability, will fade into the background. They aren’t going to disappear, but they will fade.”
By Health Net