As of Thursday, June 7, 2010 at 10:55 a.m., Christie Hill-Smith of Memphis, Tennessee is a three-time National Veterans Wheelchair Games medalist; quite the feat for a first time participant. With victories in 9-Ball, Bowling, and Swimming, the only thing left on the table is Air Gun – and those results should be released any second now.
As part of the U.S. Army Military Police, Christie's life took a turn in September of 2001.
“After that happened, I thought to myself there was no way I was going to sit this out,” said Christie. “It was time to get in the action.”
Soon she became one of the first Combat MPs in Iraq. Not one to sit behind the lines waiting to hear about the missions of others, she immediately jumped into the fray.
“I had Kid Rock playing on my iPod, firing that M2 49 and singing at the top of my lungs,” she said.
Now her goals and musical choices have changed.
“About halfway through the first lap of the swimming competition, I kept my self going by singing some Percy Sledge,” Christie laughed. “I think I even had some singing along with me during the last lap.”
It’s a long way from the battlefields of Iraq. A long way from the sand storm that toppled the tower she manned and the seven different hospitals that treated her during the recovery.
“But it all got me here.”
Here is the Mid-South Paralyzed Veterans of America. The place where she plans disabled veteran events, organizes wheelchair hunts, and has even been featured on Nightline.
“Ted [Koppel] came to me,” she said. “Talked to my mom, my family, everyone. Gave me the whole second half of the program and I’ll tell you, that’s a long time.”
Now she waits to hear about her performance at the Air Gun competition in Denver, Colorado. To hear how she fared the first picking up a gun since that sandstorm in Iraq.
“If all goes well, guess I’ll have to pick out another song,” she laughed.