By Sgt. Jessica LittlejohnApril 19, 2015
FORT BLISS, Texas - Rain poured heavily as a Safford, Arizona, native drove to pick up his friend from work Dec. 29, 2013.
Spc. Terry L. Cartwright, an infantryman from the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit, noticed a speeding car behind him and tried to go around, but the car didn't succeed. His Explorer was rear-ended and rolled him three times, before wrapping the Explorer around a tree.
While combating injuries from his accident, Cartwright still finds the courage and will to compete in the 2015 U.S. Army Trials held at Fort Bliss, March 29- April 2.
"I didn't break any bones," said Cartwright. "It's just that when I got to the hospital all my muscles were damaged, torn and smashed. The doctors told me that I was never going to run again and be in a wheelchair for a while."
By day three of Cartwright's recovery, he had convinced the physical therapists to move his legs around even though he couldn't feel them.
When Cartwright joined the WTU he was introduced to the idea of the Army Trials.
"My dream is to become an athlete, and I think I'm on the right path to getting there," said Cartwright.
Cartwright is a member of the five-man team who won the Wheelchair Basketball championship held at Joshua W. Soto Physical Fitness Center. He said his team was scared the first game, but they pulled it together.
"I told them not to think of it as a championship game," said Cartwright. "Think of it as a regular street game. Go out there and play your heart out, and have fun."
Although, Cartwright said his team performed well, Wheelchair Basketball coach Billy Demby, thinks otherwise.
"I chewed them out after the game," said Demby. "The mistakes that they were making were simple mistakes. Things that went against what we [coaches] taught."
Even though, he wished his team performed better, Demby was proud of Cartwright's ambition. He said that Cartwright performed well, but he knows he can do better.
Cartwright said the coaches don't give themselves enough credit for what they do.
"They don't get the interviews like the soldiers do, so I try to give them as much credit as I can," said Cartwright. "They are world-class athletes. They go to the Paralympics."
Cartwright said his motivation comes from one of his best friends, 18, who passed away from heart problems. He wears the name of his best friend taped to his basketball shorts, honoring his memory and drawing on his friend's passing for strength.
"I'm pretty much doing this for him," said Cartwright. "I look back down at it and it gets me focused back in the game. So every time I come in here, I'll always have this on my leg."
Even with all his success, Cartwright attributes the highest honor to his peers and said he couldn't have taken these long strides at the Army Trials without them.
"They've been through a lot more stuff than I have, but they're still pushing," said Cartwright. "My biggest motivation out here is to see them pushing a whole lot harder than I am, and it motivates everybody else. I think to myself, there's always somebody worse [off] than you, so you can keep pushing yourself."