In 1992, Patrick Byrne lost a leg in a construction accident. Though he considered 'quitting' at that time, he made the positive choice to live fully and accept his disability, with the support of family and friends. Not an athlete prior to his accident, his involvement in sports since then has allowed him to reclaim his life and find meaning.
Though it is normal to enter a grievance process when one initially acquires a disability, Byrne emphasizes that people with disabilities and chronic health conditions should not use their disability/health conditions as a crutch for not living life. He says that people must fight the spectre of negativity, which can otherwise overcome their life and ambitions. Instead, Byrne suggests, get involved in the community: help others.
Byrne believes that if you seek a goal earnestly and work hard, rewards await you. After his injury, he became involved in virtually all the sports offered at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), and helped to found the RIC Blackhawks sled hockey team. In 2002, he competed with this team to win the Paralympics gold medal. He emphasizes what an awe-inspiring experience it was to win the gold medal and be the best in the world.
In addition to sled hockey, Byrne’s love of sports includes playing golf, which has assisted him tremendously with developing his balance. When he first started, he couldn’t hit the ball more than 40 yards. Now he hits over 240 yards and scores in the 80s.
Today, Byrne maintains an active schedule that includes coaching the RIC Blizzards, a junior sled hockey team, and the RIC golf team. He comments, 'if I can give hope and assistance to even one individual, my experiences have been worthwhile.'
Go to http://www.ncpad.org/47/351/Hockey to view NCPAD’s sled hockey fact sheet, and http://www.ncpad.org/213/1401/Sled~Hockey for the NCHPAD sled hockey video clip. For more information on adaptable golf, go to the NCHPAD video-enabled fact sheet at http://www.ncpad.org/212/1396/Golf.