5 Questions for Marine Sergeant Spivey:

“I am so grateful to Semper Fi Fund for providing the support and assistance I needed to use sports to recover and transition.”

5 Questions for Marine Sergeant Spivey:

“I am so grateful to Semper Fi Fund for providing the support and assistance I needed to use sports to recover and transition.”

How were you injured?

It was an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast in Afghanistan in December 2010. The blast severed my Ulna nerve removing a portion of it from the elbow to the wrist as well as several inches of the medial nerve and a portion of the muscle from my left forearm. My left hand had to be amputated. The blast also sent large amounts of shrapnel into my lower back and legs. I lost complete hearing in my left ear and partial damage in right ear. I also suffer from a TBI and PTSD.

What was your transition like and did sports play a role in it?

Trying to find a new purpose and goal in life was hard at first, due to the limited options from not having two hands. In the beginning sports played more of a mental role in my recovery and transition. I was able to test my limitations through sports.

What got you into snowboarding, and did the Semper Fi Fund impact that aspect of your recovery?

I found out about Semper Fi Fund (SFF) while at Balboa Naval Hospital through my case manager and Recreational therapist. I had opportunities to go snowboarding through the Recreational Therapy program while I was in the hospital, then SFF sent me to several snowboarding camps. The Hartford Ski Spectacular was an event SFF sent me to several years ago, and it made a huge impact. Thanks to the coaching and encouragement I received, I decided to continue with the sport. Semper Fi Fund has provided assistance with necessary equipment and gear as well as training and travel fees.

Tell us about your Paralympic journey?

At first it was just another sport—something fun to do one to two weeks a year. But after being medically retired, multiple snowboarding opportunities presented themselves and were a huge part of the healing process for me. My Paralympic journey began during one of the Hartford Ski Spectaculars. While attending as a Team Semper Fi athlete and riding on the chair lift with a couple of the coaches, we were discussing competing, and they suggested I consider joining a team. I knew at that point this was a gift and something I needed to do; however, it meant moving and leaving behind an amazing girl I'd just met two weeks prior. When I told her, she was nothing but supportive—which solidified my decision to go. The following fall I moved to Colorado for the season with no place to stay and no plans other than riding. I had the honor of meeting another Team Semper Fi athlete who lives in Colorado and crashed on his couch for a few weeks until I was able to find a place to rent. I joined a team called Adaptive Action Sports and trained for the next 6 months competing in the International Paralympic race circuit around the world. After competing in the Netherlands, I became world ranked for Snowboard Cross and Banked Slalom. I never gave up my home back in San Diego, so when the season ended, my girlfriend flew out, and we headed back home.

Much of this journey has been out of pocket, but Team Semper Fi has helped out tremendously each season with coaching fees and travel expenses, as I have to make sure I compete in every world cup championship race which are held around the world in different countries. Each race is the difference between qualifying for the Paralympics or not as I accrue points.

As expensive as it is and not knowing if I really had a shot at making it on the Paralympic team, I decided to see it through to the end, no matter the outcome. This season has been the most challenging of all. The race schedule was much more intensive and compact than any of the previous seasons. Putting me out of the country more than before. My girlfriend and I were married in Fallbrook, CA in the middle of the season on January 6, 2018. This date was very important to us. It was the date I graduated boot camp and also the date of my surgery to amputate my arm. I had to be back in Colorado for training January 10th and race on January 15th. Fast forward to the last World Cup Championship held in Canada, and after a rocky start with a “Did Not Finish” when I landed on my head in my first race, I was sure it was over. I had a training day the next day and one more race to qualify for the Paralympics. I had a great race and had to wait to hear if I made it. That night at the banquet dinner they announced the riders who qualified, and my coach handed me a Team USA Jersey.

That was a level of relief, excitement and joy I've never felt before! The years of blood, sweat, and tears that lead me to this point—the training, the months apart from my girlfriend and all the doubt—at that moment, it was all worth it!

Thanks to Team Semper Fi, I will be in South Korea and my wife will be there supporting me—which is only fitting as she has supported me through this entire journey.

I am so grateful to Semper Fi Fund for their support!

Do you have a quote that inspires you on the tough days?

"...It ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."