Today marks exactly one year until the start of the Paralympic Games in Rio. Help for Heroes is proud to work in partnership with the British Paralympic Association to support military athletes get into Paralympic sport. For two Help for Heroes beneficiaries the chance to be a part of the Rio Paralymic Games would represent an extraordinary transformation as they rebuild their lives through sport.
Micky Yule led patrol units in Afghanistan searching for IEDs. In July 2010 his life changed forever: “When I stood on the pressure plate I detonated the explosive that tore my left leg off and left my right in very bad shape.” It was amputated soon after.
Returning home, Micky faced a long and hard recovery: “When I first got injured, I went from being a big tough squaddie to someone who needed help to do everything. I felt good for nothing.”
The turning point for Micky came when he got involved with the Help for Heroes Sports Recovery Programme. Working from a grassroots level up, the programme is committed to transforming the lives of its beneficiaries through sport. Micky returned to powerlifting, having competed for the Army, and amongst his achievements he won Gold at the 2014 Invictus Games.
"I have 12 seconds to change my life."Micky now has his sights set firmly on the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games: “The qualifying period finishes in February 2016. I have two competitions left. Three lifts per comp, six in total. Each lift lasts two seconds. I have 12 seconds to change my life. If all the starts align, I’ll smash it.”
With a newfound purpose, Micky hopes more wounded Servicemen and women will benefit like him: “I hope the public continue to support Help for Heroes because we’re still recovering. The Afghan war will leave a legacy – thousands of guys will suffer throughout their lives. They won’t recover overnight and will always need help.”
Like Micky, JJ Chalmers suffered life changing injuries due to an IED blast in Afghanistan. He lost two fingers, suffered facial and leg injuries and his right elbow was badly damaged: “The road to recovery doesn’t go in one straight line. Every time you take a step forward you suffer a knock back,” he says. But the Sports Recovery Programme took JJ’s recovery further than ever before: “It unlocked the awesome power of exercise for me.
“Help for Heroes gave me direct, practical support; from providing with me grants to just being there when times were tough.” One of these grants was to fund a recumbent bike. JJ went on to join Micky there and won medals in cycling and also on track: “Being part of a team and representing my country was something I thought I’d lost forever. It was the greatest week of my life.”
His next goal is Rio 2016, but not as an athlete. The Sports Recovery Programme isn’t just about high performance sport. It offers an avenue into other potential careers. For JJ, he hopes to be part of the Channel 4 presenting team for their Paralympic coverage: “Watching the London 2012 Paralympics made me proud to be disabled. My recovery has shown me the world is full of truly awesome people. It’s my dream and ambition to have the opportunity to tell their stories.”
Over the next year, Help for Heroes will continue to support our military athletes as they chase their Rio dreams. You can follow them on their journeys by joining in the conversation on social media: @H4H_SR @helpforheroes and www.facebook.com/helpforheroesoffical.