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‘Never accept defeat, never quit’

March 31, 2017
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Sports Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A group of wounded veterans descended on the bobsled track at Mount Van Hoevenberg this week, and despite (or perhaps because of) their injuries, this particular group had no problem hurtling themselves down the icy track at more than 50 miles an hour.

The Adaptive Sports Foundation, based in Windham, brought the wounded vets to Lake Placid for its sixth bobsled and skeleton camp as part of the Warriors in Motion program.

Kim Seevers, who is the program development director and grant writer for ASF, said the athletes enjoy being around others who know first-hand the struggle of losing an arm or a leg or enduring some other traumatic injury.

Article Photos

Quincy Lopez, who lost most of his right leg while serving in the Army in Iraq, nears the finish line during his second run Friday at the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex outside of Lake Placid.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)

One such athlete is Quincy Lopez, who suffered a serious injury to his right leg while serving in the Army in Iraq more than a decade ago. Lopez's leg became necrotic, and after 14 surgeries over 10 years, he had to make the call to have it amputated.

"Right before I had my leg amputated, I came up to Burton Lake and we did water skiing, and it was a surreal experience for me," Lopez said. "Then when I came out to Windham, I didn't want to just come out, I wanted to take on challenges. So three months after I had my leg amputated, I was snowboarding down the hill."

Lopez's injury required him to be in and out of the hospital many times over the years as doctors tried to save his leg.

"They went in so many times - I had multiple bone graphs that didn't take. I had a bone fusion that didn't take. I had two ankle replacements that didn't take and my body just would not accept what was happening," he said. "After my 10-year anniversary I had to make the decision, and it was a hard one. It was like losing a child, not a body part.

"I'm trying to find myself. I have a new disability; it's basically like a new life trying to adjust to all these things."

Despite the drawn-out nature of his injury, Lopez is now looking up and forward.

"But it was the best thing, man," he said. "I was told that it would be six months before I was fitted for a prosthetic, a year before I get a good walking gait back, and if I wanted to be an athlete it would be two years before I was out running.

"I'm six months out and I'm running, so it's one of those situations where I love challenges. Tell me what I can't do and I'll tell you what I can do."

Lopez's first time trying bobsled was Monday, and he's already looking toward bigger sliding goals, including trying to earn a spot on the U.S. paralympic national team. He also boasted that his first day in a bobsled was also the day he beat everyone else in the program.

"It's showing me that my limitations are only going to be what I limit myself to. So being able to do all these things showed me what I'm capable of doing," said the Bronx native who now lives outside Tampa, Florida.

Lopez said the thought of making his wife, son and coaches proud was a huge factor in him taking part in the ASF program. Tears began to trickle down his face when he started talking about what the benefits of a program like this mean to his family.

"I have an 8-year-old son and a wife and I just needed to - if anything, I needed to show my son that no matter what happens in life, it's what you do about it," he said.

Lopez said his wife Crystal and son Warren have also noticed improvements in his life as a result of the program.

"My wife was scared. She didn't know how all of this was going to work out," he said. "It's been tough. It's been a tough 10 years dealing with surgery after surgery.

"She's so proud and that means a lot to me," he said with tears in his eyes. "And my son, he's very, very proud. And that means the world to me.

"They're very proud that I've been able to get back up. And not just get back up, but kill this and not just do the minimum but do the maximum."

Lopez talked about pride a lot while waiting for his turn in the bobsled, but that pride talk was far more than just an ego at work.

"All I want to do is make the people proud that have invested in me and believe in me," he said. "(They) gave us the opportunity to know that we can do more.

"My amputation is just one of the many disabilities I received while serving my country. As a soldier, we're taught to never accept defeat, to never quit, to never leave a fallen comrade. So that's how I feel. These guys have never left me behind. These organizations have lifted me up to be able to do the things I'm doing, and I feel an obligation to represent (them).

"I'm a soldier, I represented my country faithfully," he said. "And now if I have an opportunity to be a para-Olympian and represent my country again, it would be such a privilege and a pleasure."

Seevers said opportunities like this can provide confidence and camaraderie for people who have suffered tremendously in the service of their country.

"Obviously, (there are) physical benefits," Seevers said Friday morning at the track. "A lot of times they come back and they're just drifting around a little bit, just trying to find something to hang on to.

"And this is an adrenaline sport and a lot of them are adrenaline junkies so they latch on to that like no tomorrow," she laughed. "But also the camaraderie of being around other veterans and sharing their stories and experiences (is beneficial)."

Seevers and Lopez each said the benefits of the program last longer than the week it runs.

"They just want to come and do the best they can do and be the best they can be," she said.

ASF uses grants from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide the bobsled and skeleton program, and each athlete was given a T-shirt made by a combat veteran-owned screen printing shop in New York's Capital region called Uncle Sam's T-shirt shop.

This week's program was for vets, but ASF also hosts programs for people with any kind of disability. Seevers said the program gives about 4,000 ski and snowboard lessons each year to disabled people who are 5 years old or older. ASF also has canoe, kayak and water skiing programs in the summer.

For more information on the Adaptive Sports Foundation, go to



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