Retired Army Sergeant Christy Gardner has always been a multisport athlete. Gardner grew up in Maine and was involved in soccer and track and field as a child. While in high school, Gardner was so passionate about sports that she received special permission from her athletic director to play two sports each season. She participated in soccer and field hockey in the fall, indoor track and basketball in the winter, and outdoor track and spring soccer in the spring. She continued her sports career into college as she competed for Long Island University on both their field hockey and track teams. After graduating college with a photography degree, Gardner joined the U.S. Army. While serving as an MP (military police) during an Asia peacekeeping mission, she would sustain an injury as a result of a Line of Duty incident in 2006, sustaining a brain injury, a spinal cord injury, and eventually the amputation of both legs. While she worked to rehabilitate her body, she also re-learned everything starting from a 3rd grade level and eventually choosing to go back to college.
A long road of recovery didn’t keep Gardner from pursuing sports. Once she was cleared for exercise, she attended various clinics hosted by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs focused on skiing, snowboarding, basketball, field hockey and other adaptive sports. Sled hockey piqued her interest and she has now been an active member of the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey team for several years, serving as an assistant captain for three of them. But she continues to excel as a multi-sport athlete. Recently, Gardner joined the U.S Parasurfing Team, but her big focus now is training to compete in shotput and discus at the Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Besides sports, Gardner is passionate about service animals. In addition to her dog, Moxie, she has helped with fostering and training other dogs as well. She has released a book, co-authored by Eileen Doyon, which educates kids on diversity and how obstacles can be overcome by someone with a disability. The book, Lucky: Little Guy, BIG Mission, centers around a dog named Lucky, who was taken in by Gardner. Lucky was born missing some bones in his wrist and the book tells of how he trained and eventually became a therapy dog. He is now working at a school in Maine. Proceeds from the book go towards helping Gardner train more puppies as therapy and service dogs.
Gardner has also joined the board of directors of Central Maine Adaptive Sport, a Move United member organization. There she has played a role in starting new programs for youth in sled hockey, track and field, kayaking, and cycling. And she continues to serve as a Move United Warfighters Ambassador. To follow Gardner, you can find her on Twitter and Instagram @CLgardner19.