Born with Melorheostosis, a rare birth defect and bone deformity with 400 known cases around the world, my parents and I relocated to the USA in 1998 to seek medical treatment for me. Almost immediately upon our arrival, my parents would set me upon a grueling and unknown path to a series of surgical corrections as a study case at UNC Chapel Hill in hopes that I would be able to walk and lead a near normal life. Through it all, I secured elementary, middle and high school education, excelling in academics and athletics, choosing to remain physically active though having to wear Illizarov and adaptive apparatus that made walking difficult; running near impossible. Despite my disability, I wrestled for my high school, swam for the City of Raleigh (and with the intent of keeping peers inspired, would narrate to them that I had lost my leg to shark bite!) and achieving the highest rank in Boy Scouting as an Eagle Scout, all whilst undergoing a multitude of surgical corrections and countless weekly visits to hospital for PT – never once perceiving that I had a disability! By nine years end, none of the eleven surgeries proved meaningful or those that would enable me to walk. In 2005, I succumbed to below knee amputation. With its failed outcome, a second opinion at Duke Hospital indicated that another amputation was inevitable. In February 2008, I had a knee disarticulation about the time my father, the sole breadwinner of our family was diagnosed with the rapid on-set of a malignant and in-operable brain tumor. In the summer of 2008, our lives turned tragic, changing forever with his passing.
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With my mother thrown into the challenging position of sole surviving parent and provider of our family, we embraced the virtues of resilience and fortitude, strong family values of love, faith and hope to weather the storm of economic hardship and life’s uncertainties; knowing that God had a purpose and plan.
Having learned that sports fuels self-esteem in the physically challenged, I pursued my passion for sports in hopes of recapturing lost childhood years, eventually taking to competitive swimming: competing in local open-water events against able-bodied men and women; swimming for Raleigh Area Masters. A grant in 2012 by CAF to a Para triathlon training camp allowed me learn how to run. I now run with passion, considering myself Forest Gump! My Coach and friends will bear testimony to what they know of me to be true: that of my ability to push boundaries through grit and determination. Be it the Olympics or Paralympics, cost of training and competing comes with a heavy price tag, often times opportunities available to the affluent. For those with modest means, it takes even greater ambition, persistence and perseverance to overcome the odds.
Grants and sponsorships for sprint leg and knee have allowed me to compete in races. Some recent accomplishments include the 2013 Desert Challenge Games in Arizona: a rewarding debut track event where I got to Nationally Classify. For a new comer to track racing on a low performance leg with six months of training at the time, bringing home the bronze was a personal high. 2014 has been challenging, yet a remarkable year in racing: the Desert Challenge Games, AZ; UCO Endeavor Games, Oklahoma and the U.S. Paralympics National Championships, CA. Despite hamstring injury, issues with socket and running leg, I got to place 4th, 3rd and 5th respectively, knowing that I was competing against seasoned, elite athletes that included seven Paralympians.
Friends and well-wishers have made a difference in my life – allowing me to fuel my passion. I now train even more rigourously, competing as an elite athlete in hopes of flourishing in the pursuit that dream. I thank you and in advance for your favored support and contribution that will help me inch closer to realizing my Paralympic dreams for 2016.