Army veteran and Paralyzed Veterans Racing team member Tammy Landeen is “paying fitness forward,” thanks to a social media contest by Anytime Fitness that will enable her to split a $20,000 award with Paralyzed Veterans Racing.
Photo courtesy of Anytime Fitness
Tammy was selected from more than 3,000 entries from Anytime Fitness members nationwide for the “My Anytime Story: Get $10,000, Give $10,000” contest. Judges cited Tammy’s “remarkable courage and recovery from a devastating injury” as one of the many reasons for her selection.
“Anytime Fitness and Paralyzed Veterans Racing have been absolute life-changing figures in my life,” Tammy said. “I can’t imagine where I would be without them.”
Tammy was paralyzed in a horseback riding accident in 2005 after returning from a deployment to Iraq. Having just swapped out deployments with her husband, Staff Sgt. Shawn Landeen, Tammy says her spinal cord injury was the reverse of what one might expect to happen.
“When someone is serving in a combat zone, it’s usually the other way around,” she says. “My husband was the one who was deployed. I was home with the kids, and he got the emergency message that I was hurt.”
While she admits the next seven years were full of anger, depression and pain as a result of her life-changing injury, in early 2013, while her husband was serving on a deployment to Afghanistan, Tammy decided to turn her life around. A friend invited her to a local handcycling group, where a member of Paralyzed Veterans Racing invited her to join the team.
After discovering a new passion for handcycling, Tammy set out to find a gym that could accommodate her needs. While the first gym she tried turned her away, a new gym – Anytime Fitness in Milton, Fl. – gave her a chance. In her “Anytime Story,” Tammy touted the gym manager’s willingness to accommodate her in any way they could, even setting her up with personal trainer Justin Randolph.
“I never left my house before, and now I race handcycles,” Tammy wrote in her Anytime Story. “Without my Anytime, I would not have had the physical ability or most importantly the confidence to try for the team … It keeps me happy, healthy and inspired due to the confidence they have in me.”
While Tammy gets to keep $10,000 of the award for herself, she’s equally as thrilled to be “paying fitness forward” by selecting Paralyzed Veterans Racing to also receive a $10,000 donation from Anytime Fitness.
Jody Shiflett, adaptive cycling program consultant for Paralyzed Veterans of America, said the sizeable donation will likely take care of either one of the team’s big races or two of the smaller races in the 2015 season.
“We’re really excited for the award and for Tammy, but also for the recognition, which is priceless because we’ve been exposed to the market there in Pensacola where we race,” Shiflett said. “There will be dividends we’ll get because of this notoriety, even if it’s just meeting someone there who will be reminded of us being there simply by what Tammy had done.”
Tammy said she can’t imagine sharing the award with any organization besides Paralyzed Veterans Racing, which does so much to help disabled veterans get back to living a full, active life.
“It meant more to me to win for the team than it did for myself,” Tammy said. “Extra money is always a blessing, but the excitement of knowing I was able to contribute so much back to the team that has helped me so much was far more rewarding than winning the $10,000 for myself.”
Paralyzed Veterans Racing thanks the corporate office and Milton, Fl., location of Anytime Fitness for the generous award.
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America’s adaptive sports programs
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.