Speeding ticket leads to inspiring story
Ed Cockrell’s Paralympics story is a good one, but how he came to share it with a couple of New Hampton service clubs might be even better.
“Well, to be honest, I’m doing a little community service,” he said before a recent Rotary Club appearance. “I kind of got a speeding ticket … well, I didn’t kind of get one, I got one. Because I drive like 5,000 miles a month for my job, this is one way I can keep it off my record.”
But in all seriousness, the New Athens, Ill., man loves to share his story — one filled with a can-do attitude that captivated both Rotary and Lions Club members during a recent trip to Northeast Iowa.
Cockrell lost his right leg in a barge accident when he was 19, but it didn’t stop him from becoming a husband, father, grandfather, city leader and, yes, a world-class athlete.
In high school, he was a shot putter, and in the late 1990s, he was approached about taking part in Paralympic-style games, and lo and behold, he had a knack — and the heart, too — for it.
“You train all the time,” he said, “and the bottom line is that I threw my life into it. Thank God, I had a supportive wife and family. You know when you come home and say, ‘Hey, I’m going to fly out to L.A. for a meet’ and she doesn’t shoot you down, that’s a good sign.”
He made his first Paralympics team in 2000 and traveled to Sydney, Australia.
Four years later, he made his biggest splash on the world stage as, at the age of 44, he won the silver medal with a throw of more than 48 feet at the Athens Games.
“That’s probably when I should have bowed out,” he said, “but when you’re that close to gold, you don’t want to give up the chase. Or at least I didn’t want to.”
For more of this article, see Tuesday's Tribune.