Military veteran and alpine skier Joel Hunt is heading to Sochi next month to compete in the Paralympics, two weeks after the Olympics end.
He will be one of first people with a traumatic brain injury to compete.
Hunt says he never even considered skiing when he was younger. He instead set his sights on a military career.
“I come from Kokomo, so I am use to bailing hay and tasseling. We never did any of that playing golf or skiing or anything like that. We have jobs to do,” he says.
But on his third tour of duty in Iraq, Hunt was injured by a roadside blast; leaving him with a traumatic brain injury and paralyzing one of his legs.
Hunt was confined to a wheel chair and was fighting depression. His parents tried every they could to boost his spirits and eventually convinced him to join a veterans ski program.
Tim Emling is an adaptive ski coach in Aspen, Colo., where Hunt now lives, and he says Hunt hasn’t looked back since he started skiing.
“Coming from a military background like Joel did, he brings a lot of structure and regiment to his daily program, which we find motivates a lot of our guys,” he says.
Hunt says he’s honored to be chosen for the Paralympic team and hopes he can be an example to other veterans who have faced similar hardships.