Paralympic Athlete Inspires Audience at Saint Leo University

October 14, 2015

As she stood in the starting blocks for the 100-meter dash at the 2012 Paralympic GamesApril -Speaking in London, 38-year-old amputee, U.S. athlete April Holmes admired her gold track shoes.  As she looked to the left, and then to the right, her French and Chinese competitors were wearing similar style cleats. “Gold shoes all around, she said. We all wanted the gold medal!

Eleven years earlier in 2001, Holmes’ mind was far from running in the highest-level of competition in her sport. As she lay in a Philadelphia hospital bed after she was involved in a passenger train accident that resulted in the loss of her left leg below the knee, a doctor told her about the Paralympic Games. 

“My family and others looked to see how I would respond. It was then that I decided to firmly establish three goals in my mind: To proudly wear the USA uniform, to be the fastest amputee runner in the world (break records), and to win a gold medal,” Holmes stated emphatically.

Holmes, now 41, spoke recently to a group of more than 100 people at Saint Leo University that included student-athletes from the women’s soccer and the cross-country teams. Her dedication and desire were clear as she spoke on the topic “Stop Limping Thru Life, Start Running!”  Her inspirational talk was sprinkled with “real-life” messages. Her special presentation was sponsored by the Saint Leo University Multicultural and International Services Office and Student Activities.April -with -Brianna

A three-time Paralympic medalist and a 14 time world record holder and 18 time American record holder in the 100, 200, 400 meters and long jump, her inspiring story described overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness. Attendees also had the opportunity to hold the gold medal she won at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.

The 2015 NCAA Inspirational Athlete of the Year encouraged attendees to “be the best that you can be.” “There are gold medals waiting for you no matter what dream you have set for yourself,” remarked Holmes.

“Many individuals are stuck under other ‘trains’ including divorce, financial setbacks, and other personal situations. The weight of that train is still holding you down. You have to be resilient, display dedication, and train hard to be successful in your studies or career,” she said.

To the athletes in attendance she offered these closing comments: “If you excel in the classroom and on the field, I am confident you will also excel in your life.”

Here is the link to April Holmes talk on Monday, October 12 at Saint Leo University: