National Disability Employment Awareness Month featuring the Paralympic silver medalist and veteran
(COLORADO SPRINGS) — John Register joined the military to pursue his dream of one day becoming an Olympian.
“I decided to go to the military because they had a world-class athlete program. And the world-class adaptive program would allow a soldier to train for two or three years before the next Games. Olympics,” Register said. “And my dream was to make an Olympic team.”
The Army World Class Active program is a program where soldiers can train for the Olympics while protecting our country.
Registry served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He has won nine gold medals in the armed forces competition and two military world championships.
“I went to the Gulf War, came back without a scratch and made my second Olympic trials in the 400-meter hurdles,” Register said. “Then after that I was on my way to officer candidate school, I had been interned and was going to have a career in the army.”
Upon returning from the Gulf War, Register was training for the Olympics when he had a life-changing accident.
“What happened was the wind in Hays, Kansas, where I was training, was blowing really hard that day and I just couldn’t get my steps right,” said Register. “I ended up overcoming an obstacle by dislocating my left leg and hyperextending my knee. And seven days later, I ended up becoming an amputee.
Seven years later, Register has gone from a hospital bed to competing in the Paralympic Games. He first started swimming for his physical therapy.
“Before the team was announced, I said, ‘Well, I didn’t make the team, but, you know, go to Atlanta, have a good time, you know, thanks for the opportunity,'” Register said. “They said your 50-yard time at the corner was less than the qualifying time for the games. We picked you up for our relay. I said, are you kidding me?
At the Paralympic Games, Register saw athletes running on the track with artificial limbs.
“So four years later, I ended up going to the Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia, and I won that Paralympic silver medal in the long jump,” Register said.
Register is now the interim president and CEO of Amputee Coalition, an organization that helps and empowers amputees and their families.
“So what you’re doing is you’re using the education, the advocacy resources, to make sure that person has the plethora of opportunities to move forward in their life,” Register said.
Register strives to inspire people with limb loss and to share the spirit of service with others.
“So I want to pour into others with the spirit of service in such a high capacity that it’s beginning to be measured through what I call moments of echo,” Register said. “Ripples come out of us, but echoes return.”