How Adaptive Archery Saved One Man's Life
At the age of 42, Jerry Shields suffered a stroke which left him with severe expressive language deficits and paralysis on the right side of his body. For the first few years, Jerry led a very sedentary lifestyle and really struggled emotionally. After 3 years of inactivity, and getting increasingly depressed, he received an invitation to participate in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. Jerry said this phone call “saved his life”.
Jerry Shields is now a charter member of the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program. He is an active participant in tennis, archery, power soccer and volunteers at other weekly and special events. He now participates in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games several times each year and has won Gold Medals in Archery, Power Soccer, Trap Shooting, Bowling and Air Riflery. At the first Games, he was told he ” would never shoot archery”. These were fighting words for Jerry who came home and got busy at the Ft. Caroline Archery Club. Club President, David Haga, said those words “set his bridge on fire”, you don’t tell Jerry “he can’t do something”. The Ft. Caroline Archery Club members dedicated themselves to help and financially support Jerry in his training regimen and travel requirements which would enable him to achieve his dreams. The members remain as dedicated to Jerry as he is to his sport. One year later, Jerry returned to the Games to take home the Silver Medal in archery… and he has not stopped yet.
Jerry feels his greatest accomplishment to date is being named as an alternate on the 2008 USA Paralympic Archery Team. In 2012, Jerry made the National Team and is traveling to London for the Paralympics to beat Jeff Fabrey while there. Working towards his goal, Jerry can be found at the Ft. Caroline Archery Club 6 days a week shooting in excess of 200 arrows a day. He uses a 45 lb recurve bow and did we mention that he pulls the string with his teeth due to his right sided paralysis???? Jerry is currently ranked 14th in the world and is only 1 of 3 archers who shoot holding the string with their teeth. Jerry states that archery “means the world to him” and without the opportunity to participate in adaptive sports and recreation locally “I would be dead” .
As an Army and National Guard Veteran, he is now being recognized by General Mills for his Gold Medals. His picture can be found on boxes of Cheerios sold in military markets and at Veteran Canteen Retail Stores. Look for Jerry‘s infectious smile on boxes of Cheerios during the month of March and at numerous Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program activities throughout the year.
Come meet Jerry and join the Brooks Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program. Remember that no experience is necessary, just a desire for fun, fitness and friendship! Congratulations on your tremendous accomplishments, Jerry! You are a great example of the power of adaptive sport when mixed with determination, dedication and hard work!