Vanessa Cantu

Growing up I lived a very active lifestyle as I was fortunate to experience more at a young age than most people do in their lifetime. Before the age of 15 I had traveled the country river rafting, snorkeling, hiking, and skiing. My passion for softball and track kept me constantly active. Life was good.

On Easter Sunday, April 12, 1998, my family and I were in a tragic car accident. I lost my life twice; once while in care flight and on the operating table. Due to a defective seatbelt, my internal organs were ruptured leaving me without a spleen and kidney and fighting for my life. In addition to my internal injuries I suffered from an incomplete T-12/L1 spinal cord injury.  

After waking up from an induced coma a month later with no idea of the extent of my injuries I thought I was going to walk out of the hospital. Little did I know my life had been forever changed. I had no idea I was about to face the most mental and physical challenge of my life; living life with a permanent disability.

The hardest part for me, was not knowing who Vanessa was anymore. I was a lost soul who did not know my purpose in life. As result of my depression I lost complete confidence in myself and turned to drugs for many years. Despite several failed abusive relationships and drug use I still found a way to better myself. In 2007 I received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree seven years later. In between that time I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who changed my outlook on life. I finally had a reason bigger than myself to live. I finally realized that my disability wasn’t something that could define me but something I had to embrace. It was time for a change.

I became actively involved with the Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) as they advocate for physical fitness for various disabilities. The gym brings an atmosphere of “anything is possible” as it trains athletes to their specific goals. For me, this is crossfit.

In 2014 I competed in my first ever crossfit competition. I had never stepped into a crossfit box before but figured if I signed up for it that would be motivation enough for me to take training seriously. As a result I have competed in numerous competitions and have found that I am stronger than I ever dreamed of. Since I have started working out I have been able to gain strength and muscle in areas I did not think was possible. I have regained muscles in my legs which has motivated me to continue on my athletic journey as an adaptive athlete with crossfit.

My hopes are to become certified as a crossfit coach so that I can help coach other adaptive athletes.  I also wants to pursue a public speaking career to educate the world on overcoming obstacles.

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