NewsPinellas County


Army veteran who lost sight in combat has new outlook on life thanks to kayaking

Posted at 2:54 PM, Nov 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-22 15:38:47-05

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Kathy Champion’s last name couldn’t be more appropriate, because she is a champion, a champion for courage.

“Once you get over the fear of being blind you can begin and live again,” said Champion.

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Champion spent 27 years in the Army before being injured in active duty, causing her to lose her eye sight.

“It took me about five years to heal from my injuries and losing my sight,” said Champion.

She said outdoor activities, like kayaking, seemed impossible to her.

“Because I had to depend on other people and depending on other people for me was the worst thing possible,” said Champion.

However, Champion slowly allowed herself to adapt to a new way of kayaking and a new way of life.

“Now, it is therapeutic for me because it keeps my depression at bay,” said Champion.

Champion is now inspiring other vets with disabilities to pursue sports. She was recently honored with the Learning Independence for Tomorrow Courage Award.

“The award is showing others that you can confront that fear and move through that fear,” said Champion.

This brave vet is also working on starting a local Tampa Bay chapter of the national organization Team River Runner.

“Team River Runner is a national wide organization that helps put veterans with disabilities back into any type of water, butts in boats, and just become part of the active society,” said Champion.

For more information on Team River Runner, click here.