Jeff Snover didn't miss a beat in listing off his friend Scott Winkler's summer schedule leading up to the Paralympic Games, except when it came to what Winkler would do at the White House.
Snover, the chairman of Champions Made From Adversity, said he spoke to Winkler on Monday morning, just after the Grovetown resident finished breakfast in Washington with other Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Winkler later met with President Bush and dined with first lady Laura Bush at the White House.
The meeting at the White House is only part of what has been a hectic few months for Winkler.
He had his face on a Cheerios box. And he was named a U.S. Paralympic ambassador, meaning he serves in a mentor program to help raise awareness for the Games.
But Winkler's invitation to the White House might not have been extended if not for him overcoming a setback the month before.
Winkler underwent a review by the International Olympic Committee in June because he is still a relatively new Paralympic athlete. The committee has a classification system that seeks to even the field based on each athlete's level of disability.
"He was aware that it might happen," Snover said.
But he wasn't ready for the result.
Winkler was reclassified after the review found what Snover said was "a flicker of an abdominal muscle." Winkler, who holds the adaptive world record for shot put at F54, was moved up to F55.
He would be competing against athletes with at least some use of their lower body. The new class also meant Winkler would have to come up with a longer toss to qualify for the U.S. Paralympic team.
"Initially, it was a shock to him," Snover said. "After a few days, he kind of got his head back together."
At the U.S. Paralympic trials in Arizona, Winkler responded by setting an American record in his new classification with a throw of 10.97 meters.
The throw ensured him a spot on the U.S. Paralympic team, which will compete in Beijing in September.
Before then, Winkler will stay busy. After returning from Washington, he'll fly to Nebraska with Snover and others to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. He'll travel to Colorado Springs on Aug. 21 to begin preparation for the Paralympics and later will head to Okinawa, Japan, before arriving in Beijing.
Fortunately, he was able to squeeze in a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., before meeting the President.
Winkler, an Iraq war veteran, was paralyzed from the chest down in 2003, when he fell from a truck in Tikrit.
He started his post-accident athletic career by competing in bass tournaments. Once he was turned on to track and field, though, Winkler found his niche.
The 35-year-old, who holds the world record for adaptive shot put in F54 class, took gold at the 2007 ParaPan Games.
He'll be gunning for gold again in September.
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