Lewiston woman named USA Hockey Disabled Athlete of the Year | News

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Lewiston woman named USA Hockey Disabled Athlete of the Year

LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A Lewiston woman is getting national recognition for her achievements on the ice. Christy Gardner has been named USA Hockey's Disabled Athlete of the Year.

Gardner plays for the U.S. National Women's Sled Hockey Team and the USA Warriors team for disabled veterans.

Gardner was injured while serving in the Army in Korea in 2006. She suffered a head injury, lost two fingers, and feeling below her knees.

She also suffered memory loss, and had to learn how to read, write, speak, and do math all over again.

She spent more than three years in therapy. Doctors had a long list of things she'd never be able to do.

"It was frustrating," said Gardner.

"When they gave me that first list...I thought that was it. I was going to live with my parents for my whole life and I can't drive and I can't do this and I can't do that. And there were just so many things I couldn't do."




Her outlook changed after she was paired with her service dog, Moxie, and met another disabled veteran who encouraged her to try an adaptive sports league.

She decided to give sled hockey a shot.

"After they told you all these things you could never do, to find one thing that you could really possibly excel at, I kind of threw myself in to that." said Garnder.

Self-taught for six months, Gardner tried out for the women's national team in 2011 -- and made the team on her first try.

She's now preparing to play an exhibition game at the Olympics in Russia.

She's made a remarkable recovery physically, and mentally. Gardner is earning a degree in recreational therapy from USM.

"I hope more people with disabilites, whether they were born disabled or had some sort of traumatic accident - I hope they can set aside the labels and branch out," said Gardner.

"Find something that they are passionate about. Something they can still do. And just try and keep them motivated to keep rehabing."



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