Gearing up for the 4th annual Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility® races presented by Cigna, we’re talking to athletes and guides to share stories about who they are and what brought them to our Chapter. Enjoy!
Joe Stone is a multisport athlete and coach who began handcycling with Achilles Connecticut in 2018. In this interview, the Stratford resident shares the hope (and possibilities) he’s cultivated in his own life since his spinal cord injury, and explains how he continually strives to use those experiences to inspire and help others.
How did you get involved with Achilles Connecticut?
As a wheelchair rugby athlete I was looking for a physical activity to keep me in shape through my off season. My good friend and schoolmate Claudio Cabrera, who is an adaptive athlete handcyclist for Achilles, suggested I give it a try. He sent me [Connecticut Chapter President] Erin Spaulding’s contact info and she took me under her wing from there. I now race as many events as I possibly can with the continuous help of Achilles CT Chapter leaders, volunteers and guides.
What’s one thing that you’ve never done, but would like to try?
If you had to describe yourself as an animal, which one would it be?
A lion, because I think of myself as a brave leader.
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
My wife’s Cool Bean Salad with tortilla chips…mmmmm!!!
What was your favorite subject in school and why?
Science. I love to research, experiment and understand how things work.
Who is your hero?
My daughter Heaven. Despite the tragedy and suffering she’s experienced in her short 14 years here on Earth, she has bounced back and become a resilient, empathic, and sweet young lady with the spirit of a true warrior!
Why are you running in the Hope & Possibility® races?
To show other trauma survivors how being socially and physically active after injury can enhance one’s quality of life significantly.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am truly blessed to have been given so many opportunities to grow and find out who I was always meant to be since becoming a quadriplegic seven years ago. One year after my injury, I met the love of my life and moved out of my 35-year comfort zone in Florida to Connecticut just to be with her. We married June 17, 2017. I’m now the captain of a national wheelchair rugby team here in Connecticut–the Gaylord Sports Association Jammers–and serve as a peer mentor for spinal cord injury (SCI) patients at Gaylord Hospital as well. I also founded and run the first SCI support group for Fairfield County. I enrolled in Gateway Community College in New Haven and am pursuing a career in therapeutic recreation (only one more semester left!). I also landed a very rewarding basketball coaching job for Future Stars Sports Academy. Most recently, I also became a soccer dad to my youngest daughter, Joey (10). My mission is to inspire and motivate others to be socially and physically active no matter their circumstances so they can fully enjoy their own independence and autonomy.
The 4th annual Achilles Connecticut Hope & Possibility® races presented by Cigna take place on July 21 in Bloomfield, Connecticut. To register, visit https://www.hartfordmarathon.com/achilles-ct-hope-possibility-run/
To make a donation to Achilles Connecticut to help offset the costs of disabled athletes’ race registration fees and equipment, visit http://achillesct.everydayhero.do/