JUPITER, Fla. – If you told Army veteran Donald Thomas he would end up speeding down a mountain one day, he’d tell you that you we’re crazy.
“I’d never dreamt of snow skiing,” he says.
Then again, life is full of the unexpected – like the events of October 1st 1979.
“I was connected to a special ops mission,” Thomas says. “Went in the wrong jeep at the wrong time. Flipped over the jeep, broke my back…spinal cord injury.”
He’s been confined to a wheelchair ever since.
But like many of the other veterans here, he doesn’t let his disability disable him.
He’s a member of Veteran’s Adaptive Sports, and has kept himself busy with everything from skiing to diving.
“Our main objective is to get disabled veterans to plug back into recreational activities that they’re a little apprehensive to get started in,” says Douglas Tuttle a coach with Veterans Adaptive Sports.
That includes veterans like Carl Morgan.
“My first thought was this is crazy,” Morgan says.
A mass on his spine forced him out of the Army after more than 17 years of service.
However, his fellow vets have encouraged him to stay active over the years.
Friday morning, he’ll go scuba diving for the very first time.
“It means a lot to get out there and stay actively involved and engaged,” Morgan says.
Tuttle says a lot has changed over the decades
“20 years ago these guys would be stuck playing cards and checkers,” Tuttle says. “Technology has gotten so good that these veterans can participate in anything.”
It creates an air of confidence – one you would expect to come with a soldier – overcoming any challenge that stands in the way.
“We’re veterans,” Morgan says. “We know we can.”
Thursday evening, at a dinner for the veterans, Jupiter fire rescue and Tequesta fire rescue presented a $1,300 check to the Renewal Coalition, a veteran’s organization.
For more information on the Renewal Coalition, visit http://renewalcoalition.org/
For more information on Veteran Adaptive Sports, visit http://www.veteransadaptivesports.org/