Pence Honors Veteran Competing In Paralympics
May 15, 2014 — TheStatehouseFile.com
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence honored Paralympic skier Joe Hunt as a “Distinguished Hoosier” Wednesday.
“I got to represent my country for a second time,” Hunt said. He joined the Army in 1998. On his third tour in Iraq he was hit by a roadside blast and suffered several injuries.
He earned a Purple Heart for his injuries and left the Army in 2007.
“I got a Purple Heart because I was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Hunt said. “I wasn’t a hero.”
Hunt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury and a paralyzed left leg.
“I was told I would never walk again, never run again,” Hunt said. ““I’ve been told my whole life I couldn’t do something, but I’m proving it now.”
In 2008 Hunt attended a ski camp for disabled veterans, even though he had never tried the sport before. He skied for 125 days in the 2009-2010 ski season and was ranked in the top ten nationally.
In 2012 his mother passed away from cancer. She left Hunt some money and a piece of paper that said “Russia.”
“God had a plan for me,” Hunt said.
Hunt competed in the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Although Hunt did not get to stand on the podium, he was the first Alpine Skier with a traumatic brain injury to compete in the Paralympics.
“I wasn’t expecting this recognition, I wasn’t focused on that,” Hunt said. “It’s kind of like gravy on top of mashed potatoes.”
Hunt said he is committed to helping disabled veterans and giving the military the recognition they deserve.
“The spotlight should be on them, not me,” Hunt said.
Hunt is hosting the “Buddy Bowl” at Northwestern High School this weekend for disabled veterans. There will be flag football games and other individual events.
“Newly disabled people would be amazed at what they could do,” Hunt said.
Hunt said he asked for a $40 donation to those who attend, but said it’s not necessary.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about the soldiers,” Hunt said. “I’m doing this for (veterans).”
Once confined to a wheel chair, Hunt walked out of Pence’s office with the help of his service dog Barrett.
“I’m just a regular Joe, I’m nothing special.” Hunt said. “If a regular guy like me can do it, I’ll see you on the hill in Korea.”