Double amputee runner sets sights on Paralympics in Rio

Hunter Woodhall, a 16-year-old sophomore at Syracuse High School in Utah, hasn’t let his two prosthetic legs stand in the way of achieving athletic greatness. Woodhall recently returned from a Paralympic championship where he earned two medals in track events, and has his sights set on a bid to the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Woodhall was born with a congenital bone deficiency that deformed his legs. His parents were told he could either spend his life in a wheelchair, or his legs could be amputated. They chose the latter and Woodhall’s legs were amputated when he was just 11 months old. He and his family credit the specialists at Shriners Hospitals for Children with helping them overcome adversity.

“They were there for me when I kind of thought that maybe life’s not going too good,” Woodhall told Fox & Friends. “They were the ones who gave me my life back and said, ‘It’s OK, everything is going to be alright, we’ve done this before, you’re going to be fine, you’re going to be able to live on a normal life.’”

According to Fox & Friends, Woodhall is now an ambassador for Shriners Hospitals.

Woodhall also had older brothers that wouldn’t let their younger sibling miss out on sports. Before he started running at an elite level with coaches, his family taught him how to navigate the world of athletics.

“My parents were always supportive,” he said. “When I started running it was amazing, it was a feeling I had never felt before. I wasn’t the best, but it was still something inside that was just amazing for me.”

Woodhall kept at it, and with a little extra motivation to prove people wrong, he excelled.

“When I was younger a lot of people told me, ‘No,’” he said. “That was a big thing for me they said, ‘You’re not going to be able to do that,’ so just having my brothers to support me and get me through some things, and Shriners Hospitals for Children giving me the things I need to be able to play the sports I want to and do the things I want to be a normal kid really is what it came down to.”

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Woodhall said receiving an invitation to Rio would be the ultimate tribute to all who have supported him along the way.

“I think it would just be absolutely amazing,” he said. “I don’t think words can conjure up what I feel like, but mostly just a feeling of pride, just showing tribute to people who have been supporting me all the way.”