Katelynne Steinke & Jones
My name is Katelynne Steinke, and I am a 29 year old Paralympic hopeful, though truth be told I'm very close to the big 30. In November of 2008, I was in a car accident that severely injured my left leg. After two years of trying to salvage the limb, doctors made the decision to amputate above the knee. I immediately got involved with adaptive sports and worked for Spaulding Rehab in their adaptive sports programming. In June of 2012, I started experiencing complications in that residual limb and in December of that year, doctors decided to do a back surgery to help with the symptoms. Unfortunately, I received terrible, neglectful care that resulted in a MRSA infection in my spine, leaving me a T8 complete paraplegic.
As soon as I was released from the hospital, I jumped right back into adaptive sports and received my first service dog. I took part in as many sports as I could, but I felt like the competitive aspect was missing. That all changed when I attended Gateway to Gold, an event aimed at finding athletes to train in various sports for the upcoming Olympic Games. While I wasn’t originally signed up for any of the events, several of the representatives there encouraged me to try some of the equipment. I got on the rowing machine and made the elite standard on my first attempt. I trained out of Community Rowing, INC in Boston, MA, then competed at the World Championship Trials and won my event, earning a spot on the National Team for the World Championship in Amsterdam. Worlds was an amazing experience, but I ended up severely injuring my neck and shoulder. After having my shoulder completely reconstructed, I started rehab and worked to get back into rowing and prepare for the Olympic Trials. Unfortunately, I had lost several months of intensive training and finished 2nd at trials.
Through this all, my first service dog was by my side. She made it possible for me to be self-sufficient. She was with me through every practice, competition, and training trip. She was with me when I traveled and while we were working towards trials, we also worked hard to educate the public on etiquette around service dogs. Each on of my injuries has left me with less hand function and limited range of motion in my neck and dominant shoulder. She helped me with daily task that made my life much easier. Sadly, I had to retire her this past June.
After a few medical setbacks, I’ve gotten back into training and try to earn a spot on the national rowing team again for 2017 with Tokyo 2020 as the larger goal. Having retired my dog, I knew that this training process would be much more difficult without her. I applied for a dog in August, and recently found out that I’ve been matched with a male yellow lab named Jones. I’ll be attending the December class and could not be more excited. I look forward to continuing this journey to represent the US at the games in Tokyo.
I'm very grateful for this amazing gift, but these dogs are expensive. We are asked to raise a minimum of $8,000, a small portion of the $42k cost. Please think of making a donation to Jones and I this holiday season. Thank you for your time and consideration.