Long before American Paralympian Kristin Duquette became disabled, when she was 6 years old she had a dream – to one day become an Olympic swimmer. Growing up near the ocean in East Hartford, Connecticut, Kristin loved to swim, but her dream was in danger when she was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at age 9.
Kristin however refused to look at her diagnosis as the nail in the coffin to her swimming career. Despite doctors telling her to not swim to preserve her muscle strength (she was diagnosed with a form of Muscular Dystrophy that is progressive), she went back into swimming and shocked everyone by showing it’s possible you can get a stronger through training even with progressive muscular dystrophy.
Read on for Kristin’s awesome story of perseverance, athleticism and her new passion that was ignited while studying at Trinity college – her commitment to making disability rights a true human rights issue.
Why she’s fearless
When you’re diagnosed with a severe disability like Kristin was, it can challenge your entire world view. Kristin however has taken her disability in stride and has committed herself to staying involved in what she loves the most – swimming – as well as utilizing her college degree to help many people with disabilities as possible.
It was in her teens when she racked up all of her impressive wins at adapted swimming – she’s a 5x American Paralympic Record Holder, the former US Team Captain for the 2010 Greek Open and 3x Junior National Record Holder in swimming. And while she didn’t achieve her goal of making the U.S. swim team in the 2012 London Paralympics, she’s committed to having another shot at the Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro.
Kristin is also a ’13 grad of Trinity College, and she received a BA in Human Rights. While studying here, Kristin created a very cool event called, “A Day In a Wheelchair,” where they try to recruit as many able bodied people as possible to take part, spending 12 straight hours in a wheelchair (oooh hard!).
A lot of people love this event. 2013 was their most successful yet, with even the president of their college taking part. The purpose of the event btw – so people understand our plight. Her event has become such a hit that the Clinton Global Initiative in St. Louis had Kristin come out last April to host their very own “A Day in a Wheelchair” event. Watch Trinity’s 2013 “A Day In a Wheelchair”
After graduating, Kristin snagged one of the coolest internships ever for anyone with a disability, working with the American Association of People with Disabilities, an organization that helps people here with disabilities and not only in the United States but in the rest of the world. Her internship took place in Washington, DC, allowing her to take part in other exciting events randomly, such as human rights protests.
And just last fall, Kristin, who’s also a blogger for The Huffington Post, was asked to travel to South Africa on behalf of the Academic Council on the United Nations System. She asked a question to Kofi Annan on about economic differences and unemployment for people with disabilities. She of course blogged for The Huffington Post while she was there too.
At only 22 years old, Kristin is unstoppable. A concert violinist and a surfer, she’s also one of the newest board members for the Ryan Martin Foundation and is a speaker with a growing fan base, scheduled to speak at the Young Healthy Athletes Conference in 2014.
Kristin may not have made the London Paralympic team in 2012, but who cares. Now focusing on open swims and triathlons, it’s all about the future baby. And while she doesn’t know what the future holds for her when it comes to her disability, Kristin has perfected the art of making the most of what she has, and that is something that makes her a true superstar.
Visit her site: KristinDuquette.com
How have you helped the plight of people with disabilities since becoming disabled? What have you learned from Kristin Duquette?
Watch the videos!