The injuries from the accident were physically and mentally devastating, but it didn’t dampen my spirit. I focused on the fact that I was still alive...still here. I decided to work with what I had and I continued to have hope even with my limitations.
I did not grow up playing sports in school or in the military. But in 2002, I was introduced to wheelchair sports. That year my life changed forever in a good way. At the National Veteran Wheelchair Games (NVWG) in Cincinnati, I was able to compete alongside other Veterans with disabilities. Back then, I won medals in 9 ball, table tennis, bowling and trapshooting. As time has progressed, I have been fortunate to continue to compete and bring home gold, silver, bronze medals and money in wheelchair tennis, table tennis, boccia ball, air rifles, air pistols, javelin, shot put, discus, kayaking, triathlon, handcycling, curling, weightlifting and now pickle ball.
At the urging of a fellow Veteran wheelchair athlete, I picked up a tennis racket for the very first time in 2011. I had no concept of wheelchair tennis. But despite my lack of knowledge, I took to the court with a tennis racket taped to my hand. At first I didn’t manage to get one ball over the net. That didn’t stop me. For two years, I taped my tennis racket to my hand and traveled to the court for hours to learn to just get a tennis ball over the net. My persistence paid off. Soon, I was playing multiple times a week and I even got my own custom built tennis chair.
I heard about pickle ball through the Mecklenburg County Senior Games (MCSG). I began competing in the (MCSG) back in 2013. I signed up for my first pickle ball singles match this year.
Before playing, I was able to participate in a pickle ball clinic at Camp SOAR (Sports, Outdoor Activities and Recreation) located at Fort Yargo in Winder, Georgia (Camp SOAR is a bi-annual recreational therapy camp for disabled Veterans living with spinal cord injury/disease). With the help of Suzanne Kenrick, Recreational Therapist at Charlie Norwood Veterans Hospital, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Southeastern Chapter (SEPVA) Augusta,Georgia and USAPA Ambassador and United States Navy Combat Veteran Dr. J. Brinegar, from Athens Georgia, I was able to put my wheels on the court in April this year.
During the MCSG, I really enjoyed meeting USA Pickle ball Association District Ambassador Mrs. Desire Osman at my 1st match. The final score was 8-15. Although I did not win, I had tons of fun meeting and learning from seasoned player.
Off the court, I travel as a motivational speaker, Reiki therapist, licensed manicurist and teacher. Sharing a message of hope with the masses.
Finally, I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that have come my way since breaking my neck. At the time of my accident, in the back of my mind, I often said to myself “my accident happened to me.” However, on this side of my struggles to live a productive life, I realize my accident happened for me! For this, I am grateful.
Twila Rene' Adams