John Papai, USMC Veteran Hoping to Compete in the 2020 Paralympics
John Papai is a US Marine Corps veteran with a goal: to compete in the Paralympics in 2020. He also assists in training service dogs for veterans at Victory Service Dogs. In all of it he proves that he has the Marine Corps Spirit of “improvise, adapt, overcome” no matter what difficulties he has faced. Now, he wants to go to the 2020 Paralympics, and he needs your help.
After his Marine Corps service in the late 1990s, John became a law enforcement officer with Park County, Colorado. While there, he competed on the hockey team along with deputies and firefighters. But as time went on, he was diagnosed with “traumatic arthritis” in his knees…which created a massive problem for this Marine LEO.
“My career as a law enforcement officer ended when I ended up having numerous surgeries on both knees related to my time in the Marine Corps. I had 22 surgeries on my left leg, five different types of staph infections, and four knee replacements in six years, all of which failed, resulting in amputation of my leg. This was all performed by the VA.Pikes Peak Courier
John is a fighter, and did not give up. He uses swimming to get his strength up. He tried to use a prosthetic, but found that skiing on one leg worked fine.
“I was trying to ski with both legs (one prosthetic) but it was a fight a lot of the times. So I said ‘to heck with it’ and started skiing one-legged. It worked. And it is so much fun, but definitely a workout because your one leg is doing all the work.”
John Papai is one of the most cheerful amputees we’ve ever seen. He doesn’t give up and wants to do more. He went to the sports clinic in Snowmass, CO, and when he saw what veterans could do with wheelchairs, he added wheelchair basketball to his repertoire. This July he plans to compete in Kentucky at the nationals.
The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph reported,
For now, however, Papai needs help with expenses for the Paralympics tryouts, a racing ski and helmet, in addition to travel and entry fees, for instance. At age 41, he’s determined. “No matter what we go through, we still have dreams we want to accomplish,” he said. “That’s the thing we want to get through to the guys — that we have to keep going for new goals, to discover new things, chase those and go after them.”
The training program with NSCD (National Sports Center for the Disabled) for the paralympic ski team along with the equipment needed, fees and expenses will run about $10,000. He has a GoFundMe to help him get to his goals… and they are great ones for this US Marine Corps Veteran. John also does motivational speaking, along with the training regimen for Victory Service Dogs. His German Shepherd service dog Kilo, approves!