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Disability Action Center NW

Paralympist Muffy Davis on dreams and being your very best

A ski accident changed Muffy Davis’ life, but it didn’t derail her Olympic dreams. She brought home three gold medals in the summer London Paralympics, and now she’s a role model for everyone to do their very best, as well as for those with disabilities — and with dreams. Those are lessons she wants to teach her daughter, Elle, 4, and the rest of the world. “Your body may be broken, but who you are is whole and shines — and to share that and give that inspiration and hope.”
Katherine Jones — Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesma
She rolls her wheelchair into a room.
She says: “Instantly, the people who don’t know me, the first thing that comes across their minds is what I can’t do.
“And that’s what I’m trying to change.”
Muffy Davis reaches behind her wheelchair and pulls out a nondescript black pack. Nestled in the bag is a collection of medals: bronze, silver and gold. Each medal has a certain heft to it; none more so than the gold. Especially the gold. It has a certain — presence.
The medals don’t stay in the bag, nor do they reside in a safety deposit box. When she speaks to groups of schoolchildren, she brings them all along and passes them around, one at a time.
“I want people to wear them, to know what it feels like. … That’s the value for me … sharing (them), letting people feel the power of the medal.
“And then going and finding their own (dream).”
When Muffy was an 8-year-old skier in Sun Valley, she was already planning her Olympic future. And while the medals she now holds originate in that childhood determination, her path ended up being far different than what she imagined.
“I was an Olympic hopeful, but I am a Paralympic medalist. Who knows if I would have made it to the Olympics? I was a hopeful; it might not have happened. But I know what I am now: I am a Paralympic gold medalist.”
In her teens, Muffy was on the U.S. Development ski team, about to be named to the U.S. Ski Team (along with teammate Picabo Street). But that all changed when she was 16, on a curve at 50 mph, during a routine training run.
“You often wonder what you would have been, but I have a great life. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do — and more than I ever thought I would do.”
The first tree she hit crushed her spine. The second tree shattered her helmet. In the hospital, when doctors asked her to wiggle her toes, she couldn’t.
“I have been blessed that I never had to change my dreams or my goals because of my disability. … Sports is a passion in my life. That was my first initial fear when I had my accident. … I learned that was an unfounded fear, and I can still do everything I love.”
Muffy, 39, is paralyzed from the middle of her ribs down. After the crash, she channeled her competitive energy into therapy. She laughs, remembering how she’d turn physical therapy into a race — like her three-minute “9-yard dash” in braces. Convinced she would walk again, initially, she declined the idea of adaptive skiing.
But then it snowed, and, frankly, she missed Baldy, Sun Valley’s ski mountain.
“On the mountain, I was free; on the mountain, I was whole. … (The mountain) became where my life changed — and I knew that someday it would become my freedom
again. It was just figuring out how to get there.”
Muffy is an ambassador for Disabled Sports USA. Their motto is, “If I can do this, I can do anything.”
“That’s the way I feel sports have been for me. After my accident, getting back on the slopes was like, ‘Oh. I can still ski. Oh. Well then, I can go to school.’ It’s so empowering, using sports throughout life for what is possible, for what do you want to do. Don’t limit yourself.”
So Muffy skied again. “I had unfinished business,” she says now. In 1998, she took bronze at the Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, riding a monoski. She won gold in the 2000 world championships, three silver medals in the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, where she now lives, and then she retired.
“I thought I was done. The competition, the skiing — it couldn’t get any better. I competed in my home country, I got on the podium three times. I had a wonderful ski racing career, from able-bodied through adaptive.”
Always active, Muffy met the man who would become her husband on a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. She and Jeff Burley, a recreation therapist for adaptive sports, were married in 2004, and in 2008, their daughter Elle was born. To keep in shape after her pregnancy, Muffy took up handcycling.
The sport is so new that when Muffy was injured 23 years ago, adaptive mountain bikes and handcycles didn’t exist. On her bike, Muffy lies on her back — an aerodynamic position — and pedals with her arms. She describes it as “a street luge with gears.”
“I love — love — riding. I love handcycling, almost more than skiing, which seems taboo (to say). I feel like I am the athlete I was before my accident. …
“Most of it is how hard can you crank, how hard can you get in that ‘pain cave.’ … I wouldn’t say I like the pain cave, but I like knowing I can push myself hard and push myself through that pain.
“I know (the pain) will end — dig deep. How hard can you dig, how long can you hurt? And that’s when you’re going to win.”
Driven athlete that she is, she set goals. She entered races, she went to a camp; on a whim, she competed in nationals — and won. The sport is so new that the field wasn’t deep, she says, but that win placed her on the U.S. World Championship team. In the world championships, Muffy got three silver medals.
“Once I knew I was competitive internationally, everything kind of changed.”
Going for the Paralympics again — competing on such an elite level — meant a serious, full-time commitment, a decision that, this time, affected more than her.
“You’ll never make the Paralympics or Olympics unless it’s a 100 percent commitment. And that means a sacrifice for everyone, the whole family. … So we went for it.
“It was a team. … That’s why we joke (that) I got three medals: one for me, one for Jeff, one for Elle.”
Three golds in London: in the handcycle time trial, road race and handcycle relay.
“I used to say ‘God made me to be a ski racer.’ Just this last year, I re-edited that. Now I say, ‘God made me to be a competitor.’ That’s where I am fully Muffy — when I’m in the starting gate or on that field to play, or pushing myself to be my best in athletics. That’s where I’m really me, 100 percent.”
(The full story continued in link below)
Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/10/21/2317891/light-lineywhat-are-your-dreams.html#wgt=rcntnews#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/10/21/2317891/light-lineywhat-are-your-dreams.html#wgt=rcntnews#storylink=cpy

When Muffy was an 8-year-old skier in Sun Valley, she was already planning her Olympic future. And while the medals she now holds originate in that childhood determination, her path ended up being far different than what she imagined.
“I was an Olympic hopeful, but I am a Paralympic medalist. Who knows if I would have made it to the Olympics? I was a hopeful; it might not have happened. But I know what I am now: I am a Paralympic gold medalist.”
In her teens, Muffy was on the U.S. Development ski team, about to be named to the U.S. Ski Team (along with teammate Picabo Street). But that all changed when she was 16, on a curve at 50 mph, during a routine training run.
“You often wonder what you would have been, but I have a great life. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do — and more than I ever thought I would do.”
The first tree she hit crushed her spine. The second tree shattered her helmet. In the hospital, when doctors asked her to wiggle her toes, she couldn’t.
“I have been blessed that I never had to change my dreams or my goals because of my disability. … Sports is a passion in my life. That was my first initial fear when I had my accident. … I learned that was an unfounded fear, and I can still do everything I love.”
Muffy, 39, is paralyzed from the middle of her ribs down. After the crash, she channeled her competitive energy into therapy. She laughs, remembering how she’d turn physical therapy into a race — like her three-minute “9-yard dash” in braces. Convinced she would walk again, initially, she declined the idea of adaptive skiing.
But then it snowed, and, frankly, she missed Baldy, Sun Valley’s ski mountain.
“On the mountain, I was free; on the mountain, I was whole. … (The mountain) became where my life changed — and I knew that someday it would become my freedom again. It was just figuring out how to get there.”
Muffy is an ambassador for Disabled Sports USA. Their motto is, “If I can do this, I can do anything.”
“That’s the way I feel sports have been for me. After my accident, getting back on the slopes was like, ‘Oh. I can still ski. Oh. Well then, I can go to school.’ It’s so empowering, using sports throughout life for what is possible, for what do you want to do. Don’t limit yourself.”
So Muffy skied again. “I had unfinished business,” she says now. In 1998, she took bronze at the Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, riding a monoski. She won gold in the 2000 world championships, three silver medals in the 2002 Paralympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, where she now lives, and then she retired.
“I thought I was done. The competition, the skiing — it couldn’t get any better. I competed in my home country, I got on the podium three times. I had a wonderful ski racing career, from able-bodied through adaptive.”
Always active, Muffy met the man who would become her husband on a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon. She and Jeff Burley, a recreation therapist for adaptive sports, were married in 2004, and in 2008, their daughter Elle was born. To keep in shape after her pregnancy, Muffy took up handcycling.
The sport is so new that when Muffy was injured 23 years ago, adaptive mountain bikes and handcycles didn’t exist. On her bike, Muffy lies on her back — an aerodynamic position — and pedals with her arms. She describes it as “a street luge with gears.”
“I love — love — riding. I love handcycling, almost more than skiing, which seems taboo (to say). I feel like I am the athlete I was before my accident. …
“Most of it is how hard can you crank, how hard can you get in that ‘pain cave.’ … I wouldn’t say I like the pain cave, but I like knowing I can push myself hard and push myself through that pain.
“I know (the pain) will end — dig deep. How hard can you dig, how long can you hurt? And that’s when you’re going to win.”
Driven athlete that she is, she set goals. She entered races, she went to a camp; on a whim, she competed in nationals — and won. The sport is so new that the field wasn’t deep, she says, but that win placed her on the U.S. World Cha
mpionship team. In the world championships, Muffy got three silver medals.
“Once I knew I was competitive internationally, everything kind of changed.”
Going for the Paralympics again — competing on such an elite level — meant a serious, full-time commitment, a decision that, this time, affected more than her.
“You’ll never make the Paralympics or Olympics unless it’s a 100 percent commitment. And that means a sacrifice for everyone, the whole family. … So we went for it.
“It was a team. … That’s why we joke (that) I got three medals: one for me, one for Jeff, one for Elle.”
Three golds in London: in the handcycle time trial, road race and handcycle relay.
“I used to say ‘God made me to be a ski racer.’ Just this last year, I re-edited that. Now I say, ‘God made me to be a competitor.’ That’s where I am fully Muffy — when I’m in the starting gate or on that field to play, or pushing myself to be my best in athletics. That’s where I’m really me, 100 percent.”
Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/10/21/2317891/light-lineywhat-are-your-dreams.html#wgt=rcntnews#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.idahostatesman.com/2012/10/21/2317891/light-lineywhat-are-your-dreams.html#wgt=rcntnews#storylink=cp
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