John's Journal...

Cheri Arnold – an Air Force Wounded Warrior Who Loves to Hunt and Shoot

Day 5: Scot Hollonbeck Has Proved that What’s Impossible Can Be Possible

Editor’s Note: I admire courage. Oftentimes courage isn’t just seen on the battlefield or involves someone taking a huge risk in the stock market. Courage isn’t just what’s required to jump from a high place into what appears to be certain death. Courage can be found in people we pass every day who go totally unnoticed, unless you take the time to learn who they are, and realize what they’ve done that’s courageous to change their lives These kinds of people inspire us all and make many of our problems look insignificant compared to their challenges. World-class athlete Scot Hollonbeck is one of the people featured in my new book, “Courage – Stories of Hometown Heroes.”

Click for Larger ViewThe impossible becomes possible only when individuals refuse to quit and push themselves past the limitations of their own bodies and minds, and that’s what internationally-known athlete Scot Hollonbeck has done.

Scot Hollonbeck knew he had a lot to learn, so he didn’t stop his education after graduating college. He entered graduate school and studied the sociology of sport. Most world changers aren’t satisfied with just changing their world for the better; they want to also affect change for others. “I looked at sports as a vehicle to change attitudes about a minority group of people,” Hollonbeck says. “Not just the wheelchair individuals, but individuals with other differences. The Civil Rights Movement changed the way society viewed African Americans and empowered them with rights and the ability to do things they were prohibited from doing previously. The Equal Rights Movement promoted equal rights for men and women. Title IX promoted athletic equality for women and gave them the right to participate in any intercollegiate athletic sport or program. My new goal was Title X, which would give physically- and mentally-challenged athletes the opportunity to participate in any sport. In my master’s-degree program, I studied women’s athletic programs to learn how change had taken place for women to become more involved in sports. In 1988, I tried-out for the men’s Olympic team. There’s only one event in the Olympic Games for wheelchair athletes – the 1500-meter race. I’d been training hard and thought I was tough and competitive. I finished last. When I finished last, I realized that I didn’t have the coaching or the knowledge to qualify to represent the U.S. in the Olympic Games. So, I tried-out for the Paralympics Games, even though I didn’t know much about them. I was strong and motivated, but didn’t have the coaching required to make the Paralympics team. I had to decide whether I wanted to train for another 4 years for the next Paralympics or give-up. Although 4 years was a long time, I decided not to quit and to go to the Paralympics. Four years later, I competed in the 1992 Summer Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain. This time, instead of finishing last, I won the gold medal and had the fastest time in the 1500-meter race for wheelchair athletes.”

Click for Larger ViewHollonbeck’s journey to the Olympic gold medal began when he was a senior in high school and finished last in the Olympic trials. He won his gold medal in world-record time just prior to his graduation from college, thanks to the help of some dedicated coaches and friends. Yet again, Hollonbeck wasn’t satisfied with just being an Olympic gold medalist. He continued his wheelchair competitions, and today is one of the most-recognized athletes in the world. Also, he never sacrificed his work for the less fortunate for his athletic endeavors. As he continued to bring awareness to the needs of the physically impaired, his social outreach grew too. For one who has come so far, achieved so much and become more than he or anyone else believed after a tragic accident, we want to know what’s next. “One day, I’ll sit in a NFL stadium and watch professional wheelchair athletes compete in football,” Hollonbeck says. “It’s gonna happen.”

Courage - Stories of Hometown HeroesTo read more inspiring stories of courage, click here or go to, and type in the name of the book, “Courage – Stories of Hometown Heroes.” You can download a Kindle app for free, buy the e-book from Amazon and read it on your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


Check back each day this week for more about "Cheri Arnold – an Air Force Wounded Warrior Who Loves to Hunt and Shoot "

Day 1: Air Force Medical Technician Cheri Arnold Injures Her Back during Desert Storm
Day 2: As an Incomplete Paraplegic Air Force Veteran Cheri Arnold Learns to Have a Life
Day 3: Cheri Arnold Says You Can Help a Person with Spinal Injuries
Day 4: Cheri Arnold Becomes Empowered
Day 5: Wounded Warrior Cheri Arnold says Enjoy the Outdoors

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Entry 666, Day 5