Education Update Interviews Patrick Anderson, Gold Medal Paralympic Winner
Patrick Anderson, a Canadian, went to the University of Illinois on a basketball scholarship and is a current Hunter student majoring in music.
He demonstrates a triumph of the human spirit in overcoming the odds. Anderson explains: “When I was 9, I was at a friend’s place and his parents came home and they had been drinking, and they were arguing and they lost control of the car and ran into me and some other kids that were in front of the house. Fortunately, no one else was hurt but I was between the car and the house and lost both my legs below the knee.”
Despite the loss, after a month and a half he was eager to get back to school, and to sports. He shared with us that his large family and church community provided enormous support to help him get through this difficult time.
“Even though I spent my tenth birthday in the hospital, it was the best birthday of my life,” said Anderson, “because I got so many presents from everyone.”
Anderson feels there’s a silver lining to every cloud. Some of the mentors in his life included his school principal, who introduced him to a wheelchair basketball camp.
He used to go home from school in a wheelchair with his best friend, a girl who generally got better grades. His competitive spirit motivated him to work hard so that he could get better grades than she did. He tried to use prosthetics on the walk but they were painful and very uncomfortable
After a competition in Athens when he was 21 years old, a prosthetic company, Hanger, Inc., provided him with artificial limbs that helped him walk. He’s still walking on one of the legs that they made for him.
“I found a wheelchair is a really liberating and empowering piece of equipment,” Anderson shared. He couldn’t understand the prejudice and the stigma that people ascribed to wheelchairs.
Rosen underscored Anderson’s positive attitude to which he responded: “The accident is only one bad thing, but so many good things came out of it.”
Rosen said, “Maybe the terrible accident had the silver lining of empowering you to become so outstanding in paralympics.”
“I finished high school a year early because I was so motivated to start playing college basketball at the University of Illinois,” said Anderson. While in college for 15 years he studied math, history and jazz guitar and is finally at Hunter College finishing a music degree.
Education Update salutes Patrick Anderson for his spirit and endurance. #