Moving America Forward

When This Armless Paralympian Couldn’t Feed His Family, He Took Up a Hobby That Changed His Life

February 7, 2014
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When This Armless Paralympian Couldn’t Feed His Family, He Took Up a Hobby That Changed His Life
Matt Stutzman of the United States competes in the Men's Individual Compound Archery - Open on day 5 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at The Royal Artillery Barracks on September 3, 2012 in London, England. Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)
Matt Stutzman became a champion archer, and now he's inspiring people across the country.

Matt Stutzman was born without his arms, but like most kids growing up in rural Fairfield, Iowa, he learned to drive early, and he told Tom McGhee of the Denver Post, “The only accident I was in was when they hit me because they were staring at my feet.” The silver medal-winning Paralympic archer was in Denver last week, telling his inspirational story to disabled people at the Laradon School.

Stutzman had always been an athlete, growing up playing soccer, football, and basketball, as well as hunting. But he didn’t start the sport that would make him well-known until 2010, when he couldn’t find a job, and didn’t know how he was going to feed his wife and kids. It wasn’t the right season to hunt deer with a rifle, but bowhunting was allowed, so his father bought him a bow, and soon he was able to bring home venison for his family.

From the first time Stutzman competed against archers with both arms, he excelled, and a company offered to buy him a bow and become his sponsor. Stutzman sold his old bow to support his family, and used the new one to practice eight hours a day. The sport took him to the Paralympics in London in 2012, where he won the silver medal in archery, losing by a few points to a Jere Forsberg, a wheelchair-bound competitor from Finland.

One of the students Stutzman spoke to, Bryttney Lint, told Tom McGhee, “He touched my heart, he changed my perspective.”

MORE: This Dad Went to Heroic Lengths to Help His Disabled Sons Finish College

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