Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 4, 2014

Buchanan veteran to compete in Paralympics Games in Sochi, Russia

GRUNDY, Va. — A Buchanan County man is once again headed to the Paralympics Games — this time in Sochi, Russia.  

Heath Calhoun, 34, a Grundy native, will be competing in four different skiing events in Sochi, according to his father Kermit Calhoun of Bristol, Va.

Calhoun is a double amputee who lost his legs during a rocket propelled grenade attack in Iraq in 2003. He was serving as a staff sergeant in a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger squad when the Humvee he was riding in came under attack.

 Heath has been a prime example of how life goes on after a tragedy, Kermit Calhoun said.

“Even though Heath was faced with a tragedy, he turned it around and took on a new challenge in just a short amount of time. He went from being not a skier to a professional skier” Kermit Calhoun said.

Kermit Calhoun, and wife Judy, will be leaving on Wednesday to make the trip to Russia to watch their son.

“Despite the recent turmoil in Russia we are looking at this trip as a new adventure to see new places and experience a new culture and food. We do have some concerns but at the same time we have things going on around us in our own country as well,” the father said.

The last time Heath competed in the 2010 Paralympics Games at Vancouver, British Columbia, he did not win a medal, but his father feels like this go around he is much more prepared.

“He is really excited and I think he is more mentally and physically prepared this time than he was in Vancouver. He knows what to expect now. The Paralympics Games uses the exact same courses as the regular Olympics. They don’t change anything, ” Kermit Calhoun said.

There are not that many people who know about the Paralympics Games and Heath is one of the few military people to participate, Kermit Calhoun said.

“I am just really glad there is something more for people that have different challenges in their life for them to be a part of,” Kermit Calhoun said.

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com

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