Simpson competes in Wounded Warrior Games

Linda Simpson - Contributed
Linda Simpson
— image credit: Contributed

BREMERTON — Four sailors based in the Bremerton area will compete on behalf of Team Navy at the fourth annual Wounded Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 11–16.

Among the competitors: Linda Simpson, 48, who, less than a year after her injury, won three gold medals in swimming and a silver in shot put at the 2012 Games. That year, she also narrowly lost a race for Kitsap County Board of Commissioners.

This year, she will compete in seated volleyball, swimming, and track and field.

Among the events, Simpson said she will compete in the 50 and 100 Free swim and 100 Backstroke. She will also do the 100 and 200 Meter Wheelchair Race. And Shot Put.

Simpson said she swims three times per week, and does yoga twice per week — that is, if she can find the time.

Simpson’s goal this year is to defend her gold medals, and throw 5.5 meters in the shot put.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Simpson said.

Simpson would also like to qualify for the shot put in an international competition held in Germany. To qualify, she would have to throw 5.5 meters. However, she is not sure if she will qualify, because one stipulation is that competitors must have been injured while on duty; she was not during the time of her injury.

Simpson said she enjoys watching people overcome any kind of injury they may have sustained in the military. Everyone, she said, wants each other to do well and accomplish personal goals.

“It becomes a big, positive thing,” she said.

“The Warrior Games bring together wounded warriors from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as from the United Kingdom,” said Lt. Megan Haydel, who oversees the Navy Wounded Warrior — Safe Harbor’s adaptive athletics program.

“It’s a Paralympic-like event [that] fosters camaraderie, and it helps the athlete participants discover new capabilities.”

Thirty-five accomplished wounded warrior athletes will represent Team Navy. The team is sponsored by Navy Wounded Warrior — Safe Harbor, which assists seriously wounded, ill and injured sailors and Coast Guardsmen.

Competitors have upper-body and/or lower-body injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairments, serious illnesses and/or post-traumatic stress. The event will feature competitions in archery, cycling, seated volleyball, shooting, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball.

Among the local wounded warriors competing in the Wounded Warrior Games: 
— Navy Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Michael Dayton, who is stationed on the USS Ohio (SSGN 726).

Dayton sustained burns in a shipboard accident in 2007. He will compete in archery, shooting, track and field, and seated volleyball.

— Retired Navy Lt. John Edmonton. This is his third consecutive Games.

In 2009, while he was exiting the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton, he lost control of his motorcycle and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

Edmonton, who is now retired and working at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, will compete in seated volleyball, swimming and track.

— Navy Lt. Tim Kraynack, who works at the pediatrics clinic at Naval Hospital Bremerton. Kraynack suffered a seizure in December 2011 and has some lower-body impairment.

This year marks his Warrior Games debut, and he will compete in cycling and track.

— Simpson, a Navy Reservist Mineman 1st Class. In 2011, while traveling to Navy Operational Support Center Kitsap in preparation for drills, she was struck on her motorcycle. Her left leg was amputated above the knee.

Simpson, 48, recently established a nonprofit organization, the Northwest Amputee Alliance. She has served in the Navy Reserve for 13 years, and served as a teacher at the Bremerton Boys & Girls Club. She is vice chairwoman of the Kitsap County Republican Party.

She and her sheriff’s deputy husband, also an Army National Guard soldier, have two teenage children.


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