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Soldier Credits Adaptive Sports for Recovery

Army Spc. Stephanie Morris added a gold medal in discus, a silver in shot put, and a bronze in handcycle in the women’s track and field competition in her disability category at the 2017 Invictus Games.

Morris powers a hand cycle at the 2017 Invictus Games.

DOD photo by EJ Hersom. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) visual information does not imply or constitute DOD endorsement.


More than 550 wounded, ill, and injured service members from 17 nations competed in 12 sporting events including archery, track and field, cycling, golf, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair basketball September 23 to 30.

Morris, a truck driver stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, also earned a gold medal in the women’s handcycle in her category, a gold in wheelchair basketball, a silver in sit volleyball, and a bronze in shot put at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Injury

Just 14 months after joining the Army, Morris was injured when her vehicle was hit by indirect fire and two rocket-propelled grenades during a deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, June 18, 2013.

After undergoing more than 30 surgeries over three years, she made the decision to have her leg amputated in 2016.

“At first, it was a hard to make the decision,” she said. “It was more mental for me and not knowing what to expect, but when I made the decision, and it finally happened, it was like a big weight was lifted off my shoulders because I had been struggling for three years.”

Adaptive Sports

Throughout high school, Morris played basketball and tennis and ran track. As she started recovering at Walter Reed, her medical providers pushed her to give adaptive sports a try, she said. Since then, she said she feels like an athlete again and enjoys competing.

“It doesn’t matter whether she wins or loses, Stephanie just likes to compete,” Morris’s mom, Relda Bates, said. “The games have actually helped Stephanie. She was always into sports. Stephanie was always a competitor so having the games, the Warrior Games and the Invictus Games, is something that benefits Stephanie.”

Morris said the camaraderie among the competitors from the different service branches on Team U.S. as well as with the competitors from the other nations will last a lifetime. “Everyone wants to win but at the end of the day, you build bonds with these people regardless of where you come from,” she said. “We are all going through the same battles, and you build bonds with them. It’s going to go way past Warrior Games and way past the Invictus Games. These are the people we’re going to be able to call family or to reach out to when we have a problem.”

Resiliency

Morris said she hopes people who came out to watch the Invictus Games see how resilient the wounded, ill, and injured service members from all branches and nations are.

“Some people are in a dark place when they come to these types of events, but then they see everybody else, and it’s uplifting for them,” she said. “They realize how much stronger they are and realize how much more they can do or they do things they never thought they would be able to do. Adaptive sports is a big part of recovery because I know, for me, without adaptive sports, I would’ve been lost.”

She tells anyone who may still be in that dark place to not be scared of getting out of their comfort zone.

“Don’t be scared to try something new because in all honesty, rather you win or lose, you’re able to push yourself and bounce back and that’s what it’s really about,” she said.

This article was adapted from an original story by Shannon Collins, DoD News. 

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