While serving with the U.S. Army Reserves at Camp Grayling, MI, Scot Severn was struck by lightning, resulting in quadriplegia. Today Severn is one of 54 U.S. athletes competing in the 2012 Paralaympic Games in London.
Scot retained some use of his upper body after the accident. Having always been the athletic type, he began bowling as a means of keeping fit. By 2003 he was competing in wheelchair sports. A year later he attended his first National Veterans Wheelchair Games and became officially hooked on adaptive sports and has had a spectacular rise.
First making a name for himself in his home state of Michigan, Scot quickly rose to national prominence. In 2008 he was a U.S. Paralympic National champion in discus, javelin, and shot put. In 2010 he won gold in shot put and silver in javelin and discuss. In 2012 he continued his winning streak, this time shuffling his medals taking a gold in discus and silver in shot put and javelin.
Today, Scot holds the national record in discus and is ranked #1 in shot put, javelin and discus. In worldwide competition he is in the top 5 in all three events.
This is Scot’s second trip to the Paralympic Games. In 2008, he traveled to China to compete at the Beijing Games and admits that competing in Olympic venues such as the Bird Nest in Beijing can be a bit intimidating.
Whether it was the intimidation of an Olympic venue or the bad luck of equipment problems, Scot was unable to medal that year despite throwing personal and national records. So far this season he has already thrown a Paralympic record in shot put.
Expectations are high for the London games but Scot, who has religiously trained for three hours a day, three days a week on top of his throwing practice has his priorities in order. He regularly tells people, “If you're not having fun doing something what's the point?”
Adaptive sports fills a void in Scot that even marriage to wife, Brenda, and the birth of Nicole (13), Kyle (11) and Colton (10) could not totally fill. However, he is quick to admit, “I've got three kids at home and they're the reason I wanted to advance in wheelchair sports. At the time they were growing up, I was an at-home dad. This gave me something I could do to make them proud of me.”
Scot will continue his quest to make his family—and fans—proud in London August 29-Sept 9, 2012, as he competes in shot put, discus, and javelin.
Update 9/10/12: Scot Severn won the bronze medal in the shot put event at the 2012 Paralympics.
Learn about Paralyzed Veterans of America's Sports Program
Steve Saxton is a professional photographer and freelance writer living in Brandon, Mississippi.