“My accident gave me a second chance at life, so I want everyone to know that you can fight it – and you can be happy. No matter what happens in life, don’t ever let it hold you back.”
Born on the 12th September 1989 and raised in Gig Harbor Washington, sport has always played an important part in the life of Megan Blunk. From baseball, basketball, volleyball and snowboarding to even go-karting, Megan loved the spirit of competition and athletisism each sport brought. Soccer in particular was a favourite of hers. Starting in Kindergarten until she reached the age of 18, soccer would be her game of choice every year. Unfortunately, one month after graduating High School, Megan was involved in a serious motorcycle accident which resulted in a broken back, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. “When my accident happened, it felt like my entire life had been ripped away from me. I’d previously struggled with depression, long before my accident ever happened – and it was magnified after. When I was told that I would never walk again, I don’t think I could ever describe the pain that I felt”.
Realising that she needed to fight to make her life better, Megan used her depression to fuel her motivation – a constant reminder that she could never stop pushing herself forward otherwise it would consume her. After watching basketball games at her local YMCA and desperately wanting to participate, it was a chance meeting with a fellow wheelchair user that would shape her life going forward – “I heard about it through a newly-injured individual who I met at my home YMCA. He’d been injured roughly around the same time as myself. He told me about a group of guys that’d get together and play wheelchair basketball, just 20 minutes of where I lived. So we checked it out together and it instantly gave me hope for the future. It gave me something to work torwards and helped me to feel like myself again. I vowed to stick with it, no matter how frustrating I may feel at times. This would be something that I would be able to hold my head up about and something that would show the strength that I have within me”.
Finding out that colleges would offer scholarships to play wheelchair basketball, Megan made it her goal to not only graduate from college, but also to professionally play wheelchair basketball on the biggest stage possible. In the fall of 2011, Megan would attend the University of Illinois on a scholarship to play wheelchair basketball. Graduating in the spring of 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, Megan competed in her first International Competition at the 2014 wheelchair basketball World Championships in Toronto. “I love the intensity and the strategy that’s involved with wheelchair basketball. I love team sports because when you’re all on the same page and everything is just flowing, your hard work is there for everyone to see on the court. It can really change your life, it gives you the opportunity to find out who you are and help shape the person that you want to be. It allows you to push yourself to the limit. If you’re an athlete, you feel lost without it. Wheelchair basketball gives you the opportunity to show yourself, and others, what you are really made of”.
Now in her second year of graduate school, Megan is working towards her Master’s Degree in Social Work and continued her wheelchair basketball training. Trying out for the 2015 USA Wheelchair Basketball Team, Megan also competed at the Para-Pan American Games and took home a gold medal for her hard work and dedication. “This sport has given me back my life. I also would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for all of the amazing people in my life that have supported and encouraged me to fight for my dreams. My depression is always there, but I will never give up and I will get to where I want to be in life. My ultimate goal is to help others that are going through a similar situation. What I have learned throughout all of it was, in reality, my accident gave me a second chance at life, so I want everyone to know that you can fight it – and you can be happy. No matter what happens in life, don’t ever let it hold you back”.