Caitlin Conner of Chappell Hill, Tx, is not your typical athlete. In fact, a year ago she had never been considered an athlete at all. It all began May 30th, 2014. She was newly wed that April and was a day away from her 24th birthday. Her and her husband had just learned a few weeks prior of her mother-in-law having stage four liver and colon cancer. The couple was headed to eat with the in-laws when their lives would be forever changed. It was a beautiful day in North Texas and they decided it to be perfect for a short ride on the motorcycle. His parents went ahead as they got the bike ready. They got on the bike and began the short trip that was maybe only a mile total. However, a block down the road, a young girl who was texting while driving didn't see the bike. She t-boned the bike, with the initial impact partially amputating Caitlin's left ankle. She flew off the bike and her husband went tumbling with it. They were sent to two separate hospitals without knowing the condition of the other. Caitlin was conscious the entire helicopter flight right until she went into surgery. When she awoke, her family stood around her with concerned faces. The nurse came in and said "Oh good, you're awake, we wanted to let you know you're about 4 weeks pregnant," then left the room. Doctors tried to reconstruct her ankle but would've had to use muscles from various parts of her body to do so. She received minimal anesthesia, antibiotics, and pain medication to keep the baby safe. She wanted to keep her child so she knew what she had to do. Her 7th surgery would be her last. She amputated below the knee and went home to a very different life. Her husband sustained several severe injuries but overcame. The two were both wheelchair bound when they arrived back to their home. They tried to balance recovery, helping the inlaws fight cancer, and now preparing for a baby the best they could. February 13th, 2015 they gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Tinley Ryan Conner. Her husband was walking by this point and she had began the long process of walking in a prosthetic. Because of the weight gain in pregnancy, she had to go through several different leg fittings even after pregnancy. Caitlin set two goals: first to walk unassisted before her daughter, and second to run before her. She achieved both goals with time to spare. Her daughter Tinley turned one and Caitlin found herself wondering what else she could accomplish. April 26th, 2016, she reached out to a local Crossfit Gym about training her. She hated seeing her legs wither away with atrophy and wanted to be a role model for her daughter. She started working out and finding out she could do more than she ever thought was possible. She could lift weights, jump rope, and even started running. She ran her first 5k and began to set new goals. She skydived as an amputee and encourages you to chase dreams. Each goal got bigger and she continues to meet these goals. She did her first triathlon relay and did the biking portion. After the motorcycle accident, being on two wheels in traffic was to conquer fears. The Challeneged Athletes Foundation hosts a race called the San Diego Triathlon Challenge each fall containing a 1 mile swim, 44 mile bike, and a 10 mile run as a vigorous course. She had only three miles of ride time on her road bike and had to learn how to shift on course. It took her five and a half hours to complete the course. With tears of pain and joy in her eyes, she completed it. They asked her if she would do it again and she said yes but faster. Since then, shet has learned how to swim, bike, and run. She has taken up boxing and made history as America's first female Amputee Boxer and second in the world. She has competed at the Arnold Classic with her Teammates on Team Some Assembly Required and has run the Texas Independence Relay with her teammates on Team Catapult all weeks apart from each other. Recently she competed at Texas Regionals and brought home medals in nine events including clycling, track and field events, swimming, and shooting. She is currently working towards her goal of competing with Team USA in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo for triathlon. She just completed her 4th triathlon, the NYC Triathlon, her first Olympic distance and is preparing for the San Diego Triathlon Challenge in a few months. Her daughter is two years old now and goes everywhere with her. When she runs she uses a running stroller, when she bikes she uses a bike trailer, and when she swims, Tinley gets swim lessons.
"I will always find a way to have my daughter with me. I literally gave up a part of myself to keep her safe. I would do it again and again if it made her life better. She pushes me. She reminds me not to settle in this life and that you only get one life. The best thing you can do in your life is try."