SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, HI -- Sgt. Maj. Karen Hinckson is an inspired and courageous athlete who displayed her traits participating in the 2019 Pacific Regional Adaptive Reconditioning Camps last month. She was a participant in the wheelchair racing event, powerlifting, cycling, and faced her fears by learning to swim.
"During the Pacific Regional Camps I have pushed myself to greater distances by facing my fear of water and accomplishing goals," said Hinckson.
Hinckson was on the verge of retirement after 30 years in service, when she was sent to the Warrior Care Transition program.
"The life I once lived is different today, I credit the WCT for providing me with a quality of life and care that I would never have received without their help. Today my life is full with new and improved challenges," said Hinckson.
The WCT coaching staff and fellow soldiers motivated Hinckson to compete in the past and continues to do so in upcoming events. Earlier this year, she competed for her first time. She did not medal, however, she achieved a different kind of victory. Hinckson gained confidence in herself and the mental and physical drive to push forward in her personal life and in future competitions.
"I have seen soldiers that are able to accomplish more than what I can and I do not have the physical disabilities that they have. For example, one of my biggest fears was dying in the water. This camp has given me the confidence to swim through my fear of water," said Hinckson.
The adaptive camps gave Hinckson an opportunity to grow and maintain optimism within a positive environment and supported by well-trained personnel. While Hinckson was emotionally tested in the unfamiliar element, Susan Wilson, a trainer at the camps, remained composed and guided her to stay calm.
"During the camp I was able to learn how to swim with the help of the WCT Coaches. When I entered the pool with Susan, my fear of water was physically visible. Tears rolling down my face and I was shaking, I was scared to death. This did not stop me," said Hinckson.
Hinckson was now in the water. "This was a big deal for me."
Her motivation reaches further than a one-time learning event, but a skill to be applied when she is watching her grandson.
"Today, I feel that I have the basic skills to survive in the water. If my grandson is in the pool and struggles, I will not just stand there hopeless."
The WCT guides their soldiers in all walks of life and for Hinckson this event brought her to conquer a seemingly ordinary activity and gain skills to help her loved ones.
"Today, I can jump in and assist my grandson or anyone else."