BALLINGER– Thirteen years, two tours of duty and an injury later, Chad Mcduffee is back in town. The 2000 BHS graduate now wears a a blonde beard and holds a cane with his right hand. The wounded warrior walks into the Ballinger High School practice field on a spring morning with one objective: Qualify for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro summer Paralympics.
Army Veteran Mcduffee moved back to Ballinger in February from Hawaii, where he was deployed after two tours in Iraq.
Mcduffee was originally misdiagnosed in 2006. He sustained an injury while his convoy was traveling north of Baghdad. The mine-resistant vehicle in front of his caught on fire after driving over a roadside bomb. He broke his foot while attempting to rescue the men trapped inside the vehicle.
“We were lucky and nobody was killed that day,” Mcduffee recalls.
While Mcduffee went back to the Middle East in 2008, the medical mishaps continued over the years. It was until 2011 when he finally received the necessary surgery for his leg. However he lost almost all the mobility of his limb from the knee down.
“After my surgeries I was depressed. After being able to run and do everything I wanted to, I was really down, especially because being in the military makes you very competitive,” Mcduffee said. “Then I went to the Warrior Transition Unit, we started playing adaptive sports, kind of seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, water polo in shallow water, etc.”
His competitive nature surfaced and he started pushing himself, one of the coaches told him about the Valor Games and Adaptive Sports Camp in Chicago.
“I said Why not?, so I went and I just fell in love with it, I won a bronze medal and figured that I wasn’t incapable of doing something that I enjoy, I just needed to find out a different way to do things, there is different avenues to do things,” he said.
Mcduffee is practicing shot put and discus at the Ballinger High School grounds. He is barely starting in adaptive sports but has a realistic goal in mind. So far his personal best is good enough to place eighth among the competitors of the 2012 London Paralympics.
Mcduffee, who retired as a staff sergeant after 11 years of service, carries a kettle bell with him to help strengthen his throwing arm.
The results of his effort are evident. Last week Mcduffee was selected as part of the Army team that will be participating in the 2013 Warrior Games.
Wounded, ill and injured soldiers and veterans trained to be one of 50 athletes representing the Army. The Army team will compete against Marines Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command, and United Kingdom teams. The games will be held May 11-16, at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“When I first learned about Warrior Games, I knew I could represent my country again,” he said.
The competition allows athletes to compete in shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track and field and wheelchair basketball.
In addition the Warrior Games feature a pentathlon “Ultimate Warrior” and the Chairman’s Cup, a trophy awarded to the team with the highest medal score.
The Warrior Games showcase the brave spirit of wounded, ill, and injured service members from all branches of the military who have overcome significant physical and behavioral challenges.
“Winning and showing what I can do here would help me to become a member of the U.S. Paralympic team and participate in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio,” he said.