Dawn Macomber, Communications Curator

In 1990, I suffered injuries in the Army which resulted in many surgeries to my chest, back, shoulders, and abdomen. Many years later, on June 27, 2010, one of my injured discs compressed my spinal cord. After emergency surgery, the result was Cauda Equina Syndrome and incomplete paraplegia.

It was the best thing to ever happen to me. I didn’t suffer from pain like I had for decades before.

I was recovering at a VA hospital in West Roxbury, MA, learning how to live my life in a wheelchair when I was introduced to a recreational therapist. She asked if I enjoyed sports and invited me to go skiing with other wounded veterans. I loved it. I was hooked on wounded military sport clinics and signed up for every event I could.

I started to get stronger (mentally and physically) and wanted to hire a private trainer. Feeling came back in my thighs and I could stand. I had no luck finding a trainer though; people were afraid to take me on as a client because of the perceived liability. I had become morebidly obese and developed high blood pressure and diabetes. My kidneys and liver weren’t functioning properly…and an EKG showed that I had some sort of heart episode that could not be explained…all secondary conditions to my SCI, which are quite common.

Being tol “no” or “sorry” made me press harder to get involved in sports (I get especially stubborn when people tell me I can’t do something). I attended as many clinics as I could and at one, I learned about CrossFit. A double amputee veteran showed me a video of himself jumping rope at his local box. I was hooked. If he could do it, I could too.

I went home and contacted Breath CrossFit in my hometown of Derry, NH. My first workouts were so incredibly hard; their goal was to get me in a class in 5 weeks. I met that goal and to this day continue to strive to do more; to get stronger, mentally and physically. I have a long way to go. I cannot say enough about this community and what it has done for me. Adaptive sports literally saved my life. My goal is to help people like me become well again.

“Never say you can’t do something unless you really can’t; no excuses.”

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