Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Paralympic Hero for Team USA - Brad Snyder

Do know much about the Paralympics?  If not, you should.  This quadrennial event is getting bigger.  This year is the biggest ever: 4,280 athletes from 165 countries competing.

During the 2012 London Olympics, we featured Police, Fire, EMS and Military soldiers who competed for Team USA.

Now, in these 2012 London Paralympics, Team USA has 227 members - 20 are US Military veterans and 6 of them were hurt while serving our country.

The Paralympic stories are amazing!  Here's one of them.

Brad Snyder started swimming in St Petersburg, Florida when he was 11 years old.  He continued as a club and high school swimmer.  He eventually joined the Navy and was captain of the 2005-2006 Naval Academy swim team.

After graduating from the Naval Academy he became a bomb defusing specialist with the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 12.

Brad was deployed to Afghanistan.  In September 2011 he was working with another bomb defusing specialist and a group of Afghan soldiers.  They were sweeping a section of land in a "particularly bad neighborhood" to look for suspicious signs of booby-trap bombs.  One of the Afghan soldiers stepped on a homemade bomb, which immediately and traumatically amputated the legs of he and another Afghan soldier.

Brad responded to help them, and in doing so he stepped on a second bomb.  He thought he had died, but he briefly looked down to see his whole body intact.  This was his last sight.  The next event he remembers is waking up at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda.  Several days after his injury he was advised that he would not see again.  He now has two glass eyes.

Part of how Brad has recovered is by jumping back in the swimming pool.  It turns out his swim times qualified him for some financial support and travel expenses.  Of course his training has not been without its challenges.  He practices with sleeves on his arms due to his arms repeatedly hitting the swim lane barriers.  And he's had a few painful crashes into the cement lane ending due to not flipping over soon enough.

Brad is now 28 years old, and competing in the 2012 London Paralympics for Team USA Swimming.  In fact, he will compete in his best race - the 400-meter freestyle - on the one year anniversary of his accident (Sep 7th).

Brad said, "Its going to be a pretty amazing experience to compete on that day.  To me, it means I conquered blindness.  I won!"

Follow Brad's schedule at the 2012 London Paralympics here

And check out this amazing video of Brad winning a Gold Medal in the 100m Freestyle!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment