Lance's Journal: Wheelchair Tennis Champion, Oct. 19

It was August of 1991, Christopher Parnell was 19 years old and serving his country in the U.S. Army. He had just gotten back to the United States from overseas when a hummer he was riding in rolled over and he was paralyzed below the waist. The accident broke his back and temporarily...his spirit.

You wouldn't know it by watching him today, but for a long time following his accident Christopher lived in a very dark place, "I kinda got stuck in one area there, I got gloomy for far too long. It ended up being 15 years of just feeling sorry for himself and not really taking too much of a part. So sports has been a major help in basically continuing my life."

Discovering the game of tennis 4 years ago has given Christopher's life new meaning, "It's been a rocket, kinda fun actually."

And Christopher's parents are filled with pride as they talk about their son's comeback. His dad Craig says, "It was hard to see him not get out in public, but from his point of view back then he didn't like to get out there because people were staring at him. And it was just like turning around and turning a light bulb on, just a complete 180 degree turn, just fantastic." My mother Linda adds, "I think he's got enough fire in him that if somebody says the wrong thing he'll challenge it. He's back to the child that he was prior to the accident.

Linda's child in now 40 years old and currently the top-ranked player in his division in America


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