Cpl. Patrick Dayton: “Adaptive sports are a lifeline to a life with others like me.”

By MaryTherese GriffinJune 21, 2024

2024 DOD Warrior Games
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Retired Cpl. Patrick Dayton of Team Army competes in the powerlifting event at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, June 21, 2024. Service members and veterans from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command, and representatives from the Australian Defence Force are competing in adaptive sports including archery, cycling, indoor-rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, field, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby from June 21 – 30, at the Walt Disney World Resort. (U.S. Army photo by Corey Wallace) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL
2024 Army Trials
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army veteran Cpl. Patrick Dayton waits for his turn to compete in the field event at the 2024 Army Trials, Fort Liberty, North Carolina, March 4, 2024. Nearly 80 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans are at Fort Liberty, March 1 - 8 to compete in a series of athletic events including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, powerlifting, track, field, rowing, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball. The Army holds qualifying trials for active duty Soldiers and veterans to assess and select athletes for competition in the DoD Warrior Games. This year, the DoD Warrior Games take place in Orlando, Florida, June 21 – 30, 2024. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Fransico Isreal) (Photo Credit: Sgt. Fransico Isreal) VIEW ORIGINAL

ORLANDO, Fla., June 21, 2024 -- The warrior inside retired Army Cpl. Patrick Dayton is alive and well at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

“I never thought I’d be an athlete,” said Dayton, who made Team Army back in March. “I wasn’t athletic in high school, but adaptive sports and Warrior Games give me back what I missed most about the military; the team and the camaraderie, and it's pretty awesome to be here.”

While enroute to duty, he lost his leg in June 2022 in a motorcycle accident. He was medically retired after serving ten years in the Army.

“I was t-boned,” he explained. “Shortly after that, I went to Joint Base Lewis McChord SRU (Soldier Recovery Unit) and transferred to Ft Sam Houston to the Center for the Intrepid and did six months of rehab there.”

Dayton wasted no time figuring out how to take advantage of the assistance offered to help him recover and overcome.

“Once I got to the Center for the Intrepid and saw everything available to me with rehab and the facility; I mean, it was four floors of awesome,” said Dayton. “The first floor has all this interactive stuff with the computer (Motion Analysis Lab), the bubble (Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment), and the pool. The second floor had prosthetic stuff, the third floor was physical therapy stuff, and they taught me how to walk again, run again, ride a bike again, and live daily. That’s where I truly learned life as an amputee.”

Dayton said he learned that being a warrior meant never giving up and finding new ways to achieve. Then, he learned about adaptive sports.

“Once I returned from the Center for the Intrepid, I learned about Warrior Games, went to Pacific Trials, dipped my five toes in the water for adaptive sports, and here I am today,” he added.

He is a proud member of Team Army, a married father of a two-year-old girl, and he’s sitting on top of the world here at Warrior Games.

Dayton will compete in powerlifting, indoor rowing, swimming, and track.

“Powerlifting is one of my favorites, but also swimming because I'm like Nemo; I have one bad fin, but as Dory says … Just keep swimming,” he said, chuckling.

“Adaptive sports are a lifeline to life with others like me,” said Dayton. “It’s a bit emotional for me to think about it, but this life gives me a new purpose, meaning, and team that I miss.“

Dayton said being around other people who are like him or who have other visible or invisible injuries, gives them purpose.

“Every year, we do this, and it provides us with a reason to stay alive and do this,” said Dayton.