There is something faulty about using the word “handicapped” to describe Stephanie Dodd. A spinal cord injury left her legs paralyzed, but she has done much more than just recover or rehabilitate. And for her world champion efforts, they threw a little party for her Wednesday at Siskin Hospital.
“There’s nothing like wearing a shirt with your country’s name on it when you’re in an international event,” beamed Stephanie Dodd. And she did much more than just represent the US of A in Australia last month. She even brought home a silver medal.
“Ever since I was a child,” she continued, “I wanted to represent my country in a sport. When I became disabled as a teenager, I didn’t really think that was possible anymore.”
In 1995, a car wreck robbed Dodd of the use of her legs. A life in her favorite sports like track and softball seemed to end as her high school career was just beginning. “I just figured I should gear my positive energy in other directions,” she said, “and so I did clubs and things like that.”
Then came rehab at Siskin and a return to the world of sports through waterskiing. “When the sports part of me came to life again,” admitted Dodd, “it was just like a part of me that had lay dormant for so long and I felt really complete.”
“I thank God for giving me the health and the strength to be able to do these things still,” she added.
And there seems to be nothing she cannot do. She drives, she skis and she worked out for seven years to compete in the Disabled Water Ski World Championships. Now, as a fitness specialist herself, she serves as inspiration to others.
“Every little step is such a big step and I know that, said Dodd. “Some of these people deserve a medal for the hard work they put in, as well.”
So, what’s next? Another world championship? “Um, for the next few weeks, I’m gonna ski for fun,” she said. Dodd thought for a moment, then added, “There is a first place before the second place.”
Stephanie Dodd won her silver medal in the women’s tricks competition.
Reported by Greg Glover