NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- On April 12, 2012, Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Laurie L. Wood's life as she knew it changed dramatically when she was paralyzed following an injury sustained while serving as a Norfolk Deputy Sheriff Academy instructor.
Wood, an 18 year Navy veteran, said that her new normal has become adjusting to her disability. In her careers at the Norfolk Sherriff's Office and in the Navy, Wood was required to pass rigorous fitness tests. Regaining her former level of activity and fitness is important to her.
In the aftermath of her injury, Wood's family and colleagues, both civilian and Navy Reserve, have rallied to provide support. Her brother introduced her to The Virginia Beach Hockey Club's Challenge Team. Wood grew up playing hockey with her brothers, so this seemed like a perfect fit.
The Challenge Team is an ice hockey league open to individuals from all walks of life and ability levels, founded by Navy Cmdr. Ryan Croley as a way to incorporate family physical training (PT) into his command's PT regiment.
Croley added a twist to the traditional game of hockey; with the addition of sleds, disabled individuals were able to join the team.
"What started out as family PT has since grown into something greater," said Croley.
Today, several members on the team are either quadriplegic or paraplegic, including 15-year-old Nicholas B. Solt, who is a quadriplegic.
"Playing on the team is fun, it keeps me active and gives me something to look forward to every week," said Solt.
Wood, who serves as captain of the Challenge Team, credits playing on the team with assisting in her recovery.
"Participating in the league has been very therapeutic. Playing hockey has made me feel alive again," she said. "Getting involved with a really good group of people is a great start to the healing process."
Wood is also the mother of a nine-year-old son, Gavin, who she says has been by her side throughout this this entire process.
"Life goes on and you can still do what you want to do and still kick some butt on the ice, said Wood. I also want to be a good mom and role model for my son." "The good part of it is, that this guy gets to see how to overcome adversity," she said.
According to Wood, strength and endurance is what has helped her most throughout this process.
"What does the strength of the spirit look like? Where do you go to find the courage to fight when you have to overcome adversity?" Wood asked. "You find it deep inside."
The Challenge Team is open to all age groups and ability levels. It is open year round and currently recruiting new team members. It is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, nonprofit charitable foundation. To learn more about how to join Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Wood on the ice, visit the Challenge Team's Webpage at http://www.vbhcchallengeteam.com.
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