By Jen Bauer, ASF summer intern and retired United States Air Force veteran
In 2012 I was in a motorcycle accident that changed my life and forced me to retire from my military career. After two years of rehabilitation I discovered adaptive sports. Getting involved in adaptive sports gave my life meaning again, got me off the couch and back to living. I was able to compete in a variety of sports around the world and had amazing experiences. In 2016 my son graduated high school and I became a retired empty nester, I decided to buy a RV and travel the country exploring our beautiful country. This spring a good friend suggested that I contact the Adaptive Sports Foundation and apply to work as a “summer intern” in the ASF’s Warriors in Motion(WIM) program which serves disabled & injured United States military veterans.
My goal for the summer was to share my experiences and love for adaptive sports with my brothers and sisters in arms. This summer has been incredible on so many counts. Being on the other side of the table and watching as the veterans experience new things has been so rewarding. Kayaking is the most obvious change to watch. As veterans arrive, many of them carry a hard and stressed look on their faces. However, as they spend time out on the water, it is like the stress is washed away and you can physically see the difference in their faces when they come off the water. Their faces now show a soft and peaceful expression. Watching and helping facilitate this transformation for our veterans has brought such joy.
Another program that was personally satisfying for me to be involved in is the WIM mountain biking programs. The growth of the participants I witnessed through three sessions of mountain biking has been so impressive. From the first time on a bike (often post injury) to riding in the mountain bike park; the skills developed and the grit and fortitude displayed has been an inspiration I will always carry with me.
As my time here at Adaptive Sports Foundation draws to a close, I will take the memories of friendships made and smiling faces of veterans that have accomplished new highs.