While serving in a support role assisting U.S. Navy Seals in Afghanistan in 2004, Navy Veteran Chris Clemons life would change forever.
His team began taking on small arms fire and the next thing he knew a rocket propelled grenade exploded in their camp. Similar to the stories of many Veterans here at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, Clemons sustained a traumatic brain injury and began a long road to recovery and rehabilitation.
Recovery was never easy and often filled with setbacks, like many other Veterans he struggled to find his way in this new life.
Clemons first big step toward regaining self-confidence began in 2009 when he attending his the Winter Sports Clinic.
“Skiing is a great stress reliever for me,” Clemons said. “It gives me freedom and let’s my disability go the wayside.”
Though Clemons made great strides toward rehabilitation, he would face great challenge once again.
One year ago, Clemons found himself at a crossroads weighing 298 pounds and finding himself living a sedentary lifestyle.
“My life was just not going right,” Clemons said.
Ready to make a change, he connected with Arizona Disabled Sports and the Military Sports Boot Camp and after that his eyes began to open. A former college track and field athlete, he finally found that he could compete again.
Today he weighs less than 200 pounds and his life is in order. He is quick to give credit to a long list of trainers, coaches and other people that have reached out to help him along the way.
Clemons is now on schedule to compete in the 2012 Paralympics in the 100 and 200-meter sprints and the long jump. He said he almost broke down in tears when the USA box arrived at his home with his Paralympics uniform.
“I am so proud to wear a different uniform representing my country. It was a privilege to wear the military uniform and now again to wear the Paralympics uniform.”
Clemons is happy to be an ambassador for the USA Paralympics Team. He has enjoyed his interactions with all of the Veterans at the 2012 National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and recognizes that his journey began here on the mountain. His message for his fellow veterans is “do every step, every single day that you need to do to get better, give 125 percent effort. Keep your goals in mind and always remember there is somebody else who is worse off.”