When Tim Anderson lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident, he responded in the way most people probably would.
At the time of the accident in 2005, he was a staff sergeant at Robins Air Force Base, weighed 225 pounds and worked out almost daily.
After the accident, he fell into a state of depression and inactivity. Within a few months he weighed 400 pounds.
Then a friend invited him to a sports camp for disabled veterans. He had been so inactive that the morning after his first day at the camp, he could barely move. But he was hooked.
Since then, he has used sports to restore his body and spirit. He competes in disabled veterans games around the country and has won several medals.
“Since the accident, when I lost my leg, I am more positive now than I was when I had two legs,” he said as he worked out with his nephew, Alonzo Greene, at Edge Fitness Center in Warner Robins last week. “I have family and friends who do their best to help me pick myself up.”
Greene is a freshman at Georgia Military College and plays free safety on the football team. He works out with his uncle every chance he gets.
“It’s a lot of motivation to see somebody like that still trying to work hard,” Greene said. “It makes me want to get better.”
Anderson has a prosthetic leg, although he doesn’t use it when he’s lifting weights because the pressure on it is too much.
Anderson’s most recent competition was in August at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Pittsburgh. The event, put on by the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs, included hundreds of competitors.
Anderson won a silver medal in bench press, a silver in javelin, a silver in the shot put and a bronze in discus. He has some trouble getting in practice time on the javelin because its illegal to throw a javelin in the city limits, he said.
He has also competed in sitting volleyball, in which participants sit on the floor and their buttocks must stay on the floor when they move. In his first competition in 2008, the State Games of America in Colorado, he won gold in discus, shot put and javelin. This past summer, he was selected for the Air Force team to compete at the Warrior Games, an Olympic-style event for disabled veterans.
Now he focuses mostly on weightlifting. He also regularly bicycles with a three-wheeled bike made for the disabled. He recently bought a basketball wheelchair and hopes to start a team.
He also aspires to help other disabled people get into sports by starting a sports camp in Middle Georgia. He started a website, www.disabledchampions.org, and has applied for tax-exempt status to form a nonprofit to bring a disabled sports camp to the area. He also wants to raise money to buy sports wheelchairs, bicycles and other equipment for the disabled who can’t afford it.
“I don’t think people realize what we go through when we go to these camps and how hard we compete, and how much camaraderie there is with one another when we are out there having fun,” he said.