You may remember how Leroy and I got to go to Colorado Springs last fall to visit the Paralympics at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). We tried out different sports. A lot of U.S. athletes get to live at the OTC and train full-time. It’s an incredible place. Well last winter, the Paralympics judo coaches talked about me maybe going to live at the OTC. They thought if I were training more, I maybe could be good enough for the 2012 Games in London. I was so hoping they’d accept me. Took several months of waiting before we found out.
The news came in March. The day that I found out that I was accepted to live at the OTC, I was at a loss for words. I was so happy I could have cried. At that moment I didn’t know whether to sit down, stand up or run around in circles yelling in excitement. I was so excited because I knew that this was a once in a life time opportunity.
I knew that this was going to benefit my future in so many ways. I’d be able to travel the world participating in a great sport that I love. I would meet many people. New doors would for me. I also saw it as another way to help others, such as doing motivational speaking engagements at schools and just being an inspiration to someone going through a hard time and who needs a positive role model in their life.
But as the time I had at home grew shorter and my leave date grew closer, I started to become kinda nervous. I had never been away from Cleveland. I knew I would miss my family and friends. The day that I left was bitter sweet. My sister, my dad and my girlfriend took me to the airport. There was not a dry eye in the car, as I said my good-byes going into the airport, wishing deep down in the back of my mind that I had one more week, one more day, to spend with my family and friends. But I knew that getting on the airplane was the most important thing I could ever do to help myself and my future.
The very first weekend I was living in Colorado Springs in April, I had my first tournament. It was a small tournament in Boulder, Colorado. I took first place in the novice division, winning every match. I couldn’t have been more excited. I knew I was in the right place.
Next time I’ll tell you more about my daily life at the OTC and college in Colorado Springs.
Lastly I want to give a BIG thanks to everyone for the support and donations, because with out them I would not be where I am today. I couldn’t have paid for school or food. I could not have paid for my move. Nothing. It scares me to think of where I could have ended up without you.