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Adaptive Athlete 2006 to Present

Jeanne “Jersey” A. Goldy-Sanitate -- Sussex County, Delaware

Using a resume format, Jeanne writes about her life as an athlete and then an adaptive athlete. She truly believes sports has changed her life and helps her deal with secondary progressive MS in a positive way.Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate riding a bike

Her motto that sustains her, No body ‘gonna’ ‘breaka’ my stride nobody ’gonna’ slow me down, I got ‘ta’ keep on ‘movin’!!

Jeanne A. Goldy-Sanitate (aka “Jersey” Jeanne) served in the New Jersey Air National Guard from November 1976 then transferred to active duty in the US Air Force in 1977, where she served until December 1984. She served in the Medical Service Corp. as a medic/optometry technician. She was stationed in Germany, United Kingdom and bases in the US. Ms. Goldy-Sanitate was active in intramural sports at all her duty stations. She played tennis and ranked 3rd in the United Kingdom in 1981 at the USAFE tennis tournament. She also played several positions in softball including short stop and pitcher. Jersey’s sports also included running 6K a day, running races with neighbors, and played golf with friends in her unit at her last duty station in Georgia.

In 1982 Jeanne started to have weakness and numbness in her right hand and constant bouts of what then was diagnosed as uveitis. The cause for this was unknown diagnosis. During an “ORE” in January 1984, she sustained a T-12 fracture, which left her a paraplegic. She entered a rigorous PT program while still performing her duties as an optometric technician. She regained the ability to fully walk within 6 months, albeit, with a cane. Part of her rehabilitation was cycling since she could no longer run. She was allowed to finish her term of enlistment, which expired December 1984.

Life After the Military

Upon discharge from USAF, having a degree in Special Education, she worked at the New Jersey Department of Corrections teaching male juveniles between the ages of 12-17 in a residential setting. Missing the Optometry field, she resigned from her teaching position and moved to Birmingham, Alabama where she attended the University of Alabama for pre-med courses (her third undergraduate degree). While there she became active in sports and swam 1 1⁄2 miles a day, played intramural water polo, tennis for fun and joined a cycling club which did regular bike hikes of 26+ miles. She qualified for VA Vocational Rehab and did a work-study program at the Southeastern Blind Rehabilitation Center in the Birmingham VAMC. She found working with visually impaired patients very rewarding and decided to attend Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO) as they offered an MS-OD program in Low Vision. She was accepted and once she graduated she did her internship for PCO at the Southeastern Blind Rehab Center located at the Birmingham VAMC. Her last duty station was West Haven VAMC where she was a Low Vision Specialist. In 1998 symptoms that haunted her since 1982, numbness, falling, minimal loss of vision thought to be uveitis, burning pain on a scale of 8-9 daily in mostly the right leg, she was forced to leave her job at West Haven. She returned to New Jersey and in 1999 was diagnosed with MS.

Stages of Grief and Steps Towards Well-Being

Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate skiingShe went through a period of the “5 steps” of those who experience a loss encounter. The loss of a second career in Optometry, pain that was unexplainable, having to use a walker then wheelchair on and off, depression from the feeling no one was listening to her, the basic pity parties and “cocooning” (not going into public). Her nature to be a survivor not a victim was reborn when she noticed a poster at the VA Medical Center for the Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic to be held in March 2006. She was too late for the 2006 entry to the clinic. Someone told her about the National Wheelchair games in Alaska in 2006. She attended the 2006 games and returned with three Gold medals and a Bronze medal. The Gold’s were in Air guns, bowling and table tennis while the Bronze was in softball, her favorite new adaptive sport. She was hooked on adaptive sports and vowed to find the niche that would best fit to promote her health and well-being.

In 2007 she attended her first Disabled American Veterans Winter Sports Clinic and participated in Alpine and Nordic biathlon skiing as well as curling. One niche was found as she thoroughly enjoyed Nordic skiing. She found it challenging as well as peaceful with the beautiful scenery, not to mention the awesome “Sherpa’s” who were there to instruct her. It also was a great cardio work out for her as well as strengthening her upper body as the wheelchair was becoming more and more her mode of mobility.

At the 2008 clinic she took first in the intermediate Nordic biathlon on race day with 10 minutes 41 seconds. Nordic team mate, Sean Halsted helped her with Nordic tips prior to race day, and suggested hand cycling as a summer event to get in shape for Nordic. Thus a new niche was born—hand cycling. She joined a local cycling club and borrowed their hand cycles to see if this was a sport she wanted to pursue. It definitely was. She applied for a hand cycle from the Philadelphia VAMC in December 2008. She was hoping to compete in a Triathlon in August 2009 and the National MS Society ride in October in 2009 but her hand cycle wasn’t ordered until August 2009 and wasn’t dispensed until November 27, 2009. Cutting it close for the December 12, 2009 Ride 2 Recovery (Making a Difference in the Lives of Injured Vets program) challenge and little training on the “SGJJM” (“screaming green Jersey Jeanne machine”--she had been rowing on her total gym for strength and endurance), she rode all six days logging 250 miles out of the total 350 miles of the event. Now there are two niches that are a part of this adaptive athlete.

Searching for New Adaptive Clinics

Always on the search for new adaptive clinics she stumbled upon two new clinics, the National Veterans TEE Tournament in Iowa, a program to develop skills in bowling and golf for Veterans with disabilities, which was opened to SCI/SCD Veterans in 2009 and the New England Handicapped Sports Association Disabled Veterans Winter Sports clinic sponsored by the Boston VAMC. She applied to both and was accepted to both.Jeanne Goldy-Sanitate golfing

The TEE Tournament in September 2009 was a success as adaptive golf is a sport she could do with the ‘Hubbs’ (husband). They spend many vacations in Myrtle Beach and the ‘Hubbs’ loves his golf. She played too, but only every other hole. As changes in her mobility decreased her golf game became putting only then it eventually to only driving the “Chariot”. She thought she would never play golf again. So, it is no surprise that she became JAZZED to be able to play 18 holes of golf for the first time in 27 years using an adaptive golf “chariot”. She was featured in the December Paralyzed Veterans of America magazine PN article. Her husband bought her clubs and they try to play golf together as often as possible in Myrtle Beach, at local courses, and as well at Dover AFB.

Get Focused, Stay Focused

On the drive back from Iowa, the ‘Hubbs’ always looking out for her well-being, told her to pick three things she would like to focus on. She chose the ‘Hubbs’ and their yellow lab Casper for #1, adaptive sports #2 and being active in the DAV #3. Being active in Disabled American Veterans involves serving as a Chapter Service Officer (CSO) in the New Jersey Chapter #42, as well as judge advocate. As a CSO she went to Ft. Dix many Wednesdays (health and sight willing) to help the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan submit claims for service connected disabilities. Going to Ft Dix helped her keep ties to the military and gave her a chance to help her fellow soldiers and Veterans navigate the VA claims system, which can be very overwhelming. She often draws on her experience from working at the VA in reference to VA regulations, use of diagnostic codes in rating etc. She was the Sgt at Arms for the Department of NJ DAV as well as Women’s Veteran Committee to the NJ DAV. She keeps current on legislation regarding women Veterans and is an advocate on changes, needs and other issues women Veterans face.

After returning from the 2009 Ride 2 Recovery challenge held in Florida she attended the New England Handicapped Sports Association Disabled Veterans ski clinic in January 2010 and was able to again find a sport she thought was out of her reach, snowboarding. Luckily for her the NEHSA team had a prototype for an adaptive snowboard. She did snowboarding all three days of the clinic. She called it “Wicked Sweet.”

Participated in the Following Sporting Events in 2010

March 27-April 3, 2010 DAV WSC: She accomplished adaptive snowboard 3 days, Nordic ski 1 day, rock wall climb, with a hand over hand technique and done in a skirt! Natch!

May 2-15 Warrior Games, US Air Force Team: She competed in hand cycling and swimming. She received gold in 50 M Backstroke and 10K hand cycle. What an experience.

September TEE Tournament: She was given a week in the GIVE (golf for injured Veterans everywhere) program where she learned adaptive golf techniques and perfects her driving and putting. The following week she was in the TEE tournament where she had the chance to fine tune those new skills. She also was able to learn yet another new sport, kayaking. WICKED SWEEET.a bike race

November in Florida: The summer and early fall brought a busy time as the “Hubbs decided to retire and with New Jersey property taxes getting out of reach they built a totally accessible home in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. They settled in to their new home on November 12th, and she hit the road for a trip to Florida to do her second Ride2Recovery. This year she logged 226 miles due to a crash day that took away the 75-mile ride on Friday and the remainder of day 2. It was such a great time to reconnect with the R2R family of fellow soldiers.

Participated in the Following Sporting Events in 2011

February 2011: She was selected to attend a training/selection camp for the USAF 2011 Warrior games. There she swam cycled and shot. She was selected for the team this May and will compete in 50M backstroke and 10K hand cycling.

March 2011: She was invited to a pheasant shoot with a local group called Hunters Helping Soldiers. It was her first time to hunt or even shoot a shotgun. She was able to get 2 pheasants and a “Chucker”. A local taxidermist offered to stuff one pheasant for her. Ms. Goldy-Sanitate and her “Hubbs” had the other two for dinner…YUMMO’. Another item on the “Stroke-N-Croak” list achieved!! The shooting has given her a desire to take up trapshooting and participate in that sport at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

March/April 2011 DAV Winter Sports Clinic: Nordic Biathlon & Trap shooting. She did four days of Nordic events and one day of trap shooting. Her “Sherpa” Ron said next year she will be in the advanced category for Nordic.

April 16, 2011 Trap Shoot Fundraiser for Hunters Helping Soldiers: Didn’t have a gun so she borrowed an over and under from Scott Campbell. Did ok but that 12 gauge has a nasty kick.

April/May 2011 US Olympic Training Center: At the Learn to Race Cycling Camp she managed to beat her best time at the 2010 Warrior games by 3 minutes for a 10K, just missing the mark for military standards for Paralympics.

May 2011 Warrior Games Team AF: Participated in 50 M backstroke and 10K hand cycle, winning a Bronze for the 10K and again improved her time in the 10K by 6:30 minutes over her 2010 time.

Jeanne swimmingAugust 2011 National Veterans Wheelchair Games: She competed for the Wilmington, Delaware VAMC and participated in the 100 yard back stroke and won Gold; Hand cycling improved her best time of the 2011 Warrior games by 4:23 and won Gold; Trap shooting shot 10/50 for the first time trap shooting with a gun she borrowed (she needs to get a gun to continue shooting) and won Gold; and won Bronze in air guns.

September 11-18, 2011 Ride2Recovery 9-11 Challenge: She logged 120 miles day 1 and 2. A 5-cycle crash day 2 took her out of the event as she injured her right shoulder. She did the last 15 miles, day 2 with one arm, as she wanted to finish that day.

September 25-25, 2011 National MS Society 150 Bike to the Bay Challenge: She logged 82 miles day one and landed in the hospital for hyperneutremia (over hydration, yes it is possible.) The end of September she broke her left wrist on the Lewes Cape May ferry as it was not accessible and has been “GROUNDED” until the end of Jan 2012 to heal.

Sustaining Life Motto

No body ‘gonna’ ‘breaka’ my stride nobody ’gonna’ slow me down, I got ‘ta’ keep on ‘movin’!! Roll on... Jersey Jeanne!