FORT HOOD – He was a natural. Sports were his passion. In fact, Robbie Gaupp was being scouted to play football for the NFL while playing for a semi-pro team in Brownsville
“It was the happiest part of my life,” said Robbie. Five months later, that dream was literally crushed.
In 2008 Robbie was serving in ‘Operation Jump Start’, a mission to help secure the Texas-Mexico border. As he was in pursuit of a group of illegal immigrants he had an accident that crushed his right arm. For more than a year his arm remained paralyzed, and to this day he cannot gain any muscle and has limited movement.
“I was in a dark place,” he said. “I lost control of my life.”
Robbie joined the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Hood during his recovery, but what he found was more than just physical healing. “They gave me a chance to build bonds, and to learn that just because I have a disability it doesn’t mean I have to give up,” said Robbie. “I had to adapt and overcome.’
Hesitant at first, he was given the chance to play adaptive sports. Learning to run again using just one arm, his passion was reignited and his competitive nature burned even brighter. “It definitely changed my outlook on life,” he said.
Emerging out of his dark place, Robbie was reborn through adaptive sports. He began training and dedicated his life again to being the best athlete as possible. And it paid off.
Even after medically retiring from the military, Robbie earned a spot on the Army Team where he competed against other wounded warriors in different branches of the military in the Warrior Games. He later earned a spot on Team USA for the Invictus Games, and international military competition created by Prince Harry.
“I can be a Paralympian… why not?” he thought. In 2013, Robbie made that dream a reality, and landed a spot on the USA team to compete in the Paralympics.
“With hard work and dedication you can be anything you want to be. Dreams are not magic, you have to work toward them,” said Robbie.
And now, seven years after his injury, Robbie continues to be competitive in adaptive sports. His specialties are track and field, and sitting volleyball. He’s even picked up a new one – archery. Even though his arm causes him to use a mouth tab to shoot the arrow, he doesn’t let it slow him down.
“I’m not trying to be good. I’m trying to be great,” he said.
Robbie will got to the Army Trials next week for the Warrior Games. He has also made it onto team USA for the 2016 Invictus Games to be held in Orlando Florida.
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