Dreams: Andrew Kurka

Andrew Kurka has always had big dreams, but sometimes you need to adjust them because of circumstances you don’t expect.  When Andrew was eight years-old he wanted to be a champion wrestler. He’s already won a state championship, but his coach had some wise advice, “Remember, there will always be someone better.”

 That day Andrew knew something important.” I wanted to be the best. That’s where my Olympic dream grew. Once you win that gold medal on the Olympic stage, you are the best. From then on, every moment was a dedication to bettering myself, and my Olympic wrestling dream grew with great successes and many failures.”

But, just when Andrew was working toward his goals, something happened that changed everything. In 2005, Andrew broke his back and became paralyzed after an ATV accident.  At that time, Andrew felt   “Fear and hopelessness.”” But, he continued to explain,” looking back on it now, that accident has defined me and shaped the person I am today – in so many good ways. The process of recovery from an injury was difficult. There were trials and tribulations, especially as a 13-year-old. I didn’t know where to go next or where this would lead me. Nevertheless, after work, focus and a family that stood behind me, I started walking again at the age of 15. This was when my world opened and possibilities started to flow. I became the Miracle Child for the Children’s Miracle Network. I traveled and spoke to many young children with uncertain futures. Each of them helped me to realize my own potential. That is when everything started to turn around. Two years from the date of my injury, I realized I could live just as much – if not more – than most people. I would live life in a different way, and there was nothing wrong with that.”

Something else happened after the accident. Andrew changed his focus. Here’s what he said:

“It was a life-changing moment for me,” Kurka said last fall during the U.S. Olympic Committee’s media summit. “Prior to that my dream has always been to be the No. 1 in the world. After hurting my back in Sochi and breaking my femur eight months later, I was bedridden and I was sitting in the hospital and I didn’t know what was next in my career. And I decided to shift my focus a lot. It became more about helping other individuals and really showcasing Paralympics and my story to show people they can overcome these obstacles in their lives. If I can do it, so can you.”

Today, Andrew is competing in the Paralympics in South Korea. He’s the gold medal winner. Congratulations, Andrew! So proud of you.

copyright; Deanie Humphrys-Dunne 2018

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