BETHESDA, Md. — “This is Xena Warrior Princess,” U.S. Air Force Capt. Christy Wise said while tapping her right thigh.
“I have five legs and they all have different names because naming the legs … it just makes everything more fun,” she added with a laugh.
Wise, who will lead 90 U.S. wounded active duty service members and veterans in this year’s Invictus Games, lost her leg during a boating accident in April of 2015.
“Before Christy’s accident we were pretty much adventure buddies,” said her best friend Jimmy who was with her on that day.
“Adventures is what we did every single weekend. Skydiving, scuba diving, shooting at the range, riding dirt bikes and we expected that with that kind of lifestyle you’d get hurt every once in a while.”
But the thrill-seeking duo found themselves involved in a hit-and-run boat accident one evening while paddleboarding.
“All I saw was three green lights and one red light from a boat coming straight towards me and fast,” she wrote in a post for “One Leg Up On Life,” a nonprofit she started following the accident.
“I reacted and dove in the water to swim away … and the propeller of the boat went through my right leg then.”
Wise surfaced and saw a bone sticking out of her leg. “I thought my leg was gone completely but it was still hanging on by the hamstring.”
She later realized that she would inevitably lose her right leg.
“I’ll say that while her injury has changed her life, it hasn’t changed her,” Jimmy added.
“The second night in the hospital she looked at me and said, ‘Jimmy, don’t worry we are still going to have adventures they are just going to be a little different’.”
Post accident, Wise has climbed mountains in Norway, completed her second triathlon, and continues to scuba dive.
“I just didn’t want to slow down,” she said. “Day one in the hospital I had them get me a pull-up bar because I was like ‘Okay, I’m here in the bed, losing a leg, but, my arms are still good.'”
Wise, extremely active in nature, turned to adaptive sports during her rehabilitation.
Nine months after her accident, Wise was selected to compete on the Air Force’s team at the Department of Defense’s Warrior Games.
“I was blessed that I got recruited for the Air Force Warrior Games very early on in my recovery because I didn’t even have a prosthetic leg yet and I saw guys sprinting with two.”
“It was really cool to see that [adaptive sports athletes] so early,” she added.
Wise will go on to compete in swimming, rowing, as well as track and field events at this year’s Invictus Games in Toronto.
In tow with Wise will be all five of her prosthetic legs.
“They’re all different … right now, ‘Pedelina’ is my favorite leg,” Wise said while searching for a photo of her legs on her iPhone.
“My running leg is named ‘Bolt’ after Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt and it actually has a lightning bolt on the side which is pretty cool.”
“My water leg is ‘Ariel’ after the mermaid, and then we have ‘Pedalina’ is for biking, ‘Shredder’ is my ski leg and then I have Barbie which is actually the one that looks really nice for special events.”
“She is not that easy to walk in so we call her ‘high maintenance,’ and so, I never wear ‘Barbie.’ I thought I would but she just sits in the closet most of the time,” Wise added.
The Invictus Games, much like the Warrior Games, organizes adaptive sports competitions to raise awareness and support for wounded military, veterans, and their families.
Prince Henry of Wales created the Invictus Games after visiting the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado.
After serving 10 years in the British Army, which included two tours on the front lines of Afghanistan, Prince Harry, as he is familiarly known, continues to champion for the military and their families.
The Invictus Games will kickoff on September 23 and last until September 30.