Craig graduate, Jay LaPointe, now a competitive cyclist, made it a step closer to his dreams of joining the U.S. National Paralympic Team after finishing first in the U.S. Road Nationals on Friday, July 4. The nation’s top amateurs and para-cyclists competed for the Stars-and-Stripes jersey in Madison, Wisconsin.
“It was so cool to receive a Stars-and-Stripes jersey and a gold medal on July 4th! It was definitely a highlight in my recovery from a spinal cord injury after graduating from Craig Hospital in 2004,” Jay said.
Jay has come a long way since 2004. June 10th, the day of his accident, is a day that carries the weight of heavy emotion. Each year he says he is drawn back into the events of that day in 2004.
“It’s the day my life changed forever.”
In 2004, Jay was on track to enter the Pro Motocross ranks. In a video-blog he describes the emotion surrounding the day he sustained a spinal cord injury while practicing at a motocross track in Berthoud, CO.
“Everything I knew and was looking forward to, came crashing down that day,” he said.
During a jump he was kicked from his bike and landed on his side, breaking his C-4 vertebrae and causing instant paralysis. Jay was in rehabilitation at Craig Hospital for a little more than 3 months.
Eight months after his injury Jay took his first steps. In 2011, he pedaled 300 miles from the Colorado/Wyoming border to the Colorado/New Mexico border.Since his injury, Jay has also become an advocate for others with spinal cord injury. He has an active website and blog where he shares his journey and encourages others. He also mentors newly injured Craig Hospital patients.
Jay is now working hard as competitive biker with a goal to join the U.S. National Paralympic Team. He has been training for the last two years on how to control a racing tricycle. He says one of the most difficult issues he deals with his regulating his body temperature.
“I don’t sweat. I have to rely on a spray bottle filled with water to simulate sweating to stay cool while training in the heat.”
Jay has joined up with USA Cycling Coach Rick Babington who has been coaching Paralympic athletes since 2005. He is an active member of the PEAK Center at Craig Hospital. We hope we’ll be cheering him on in Rio in 2016!