Athlete’s Perspective: Peternel reflects on overcoming life-altering adversity

By Garrett Peternel ’14Contributing Writer

Being a student athlete is a privilege. Having the ability to play a sport and attend a fine academic institution is a blessing. I will always be extremely thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of a team and play college baseball again after missing two full seasons because of limb-threatening surgeries on both of my lower legs that forced me to take a medical leave from college.

Now that my college baseball days are over, I look back and am so thankful I was able to play baseball and get my life back after I was supposed to never live a normal life again. Sometimes I think, “Did this actually happen?” There are so many things to be thankful for in our lives that we should never take for granted.

When I was sick, I wasn’t even thinking about baseball. I was struggling daily to get by, to have a future. Being able to step back on a baseball field and witness a baseball championship was a dream come true. Having the ability to walk normally and live pain free was something I never thought I would feel again. I dealt with daily excruciating leg pain for five years while seeing countless doctors and having invasive medical tests performed all across the country, searching for the correct diagnosis I was unknowingly born with and developed over time.

I don’t know how I got through what I did. I tried to stay positive and never gave up. I believed what was happening to me had a purpose. If I could escape the hell I was going through, then I would always believe hope is never lost. I hope my story inspires people to follow their dreams and never give up during tough times. I can’t even begin to explain the days where I thought hope was lost and how I thought I would never escape my health nightmare.

My mission in life is to be an inspiration to others and to inspire those who are seeking help. My legs were not supposed to function normally again according to many medical experts. I am blessed to have a chance to live life to the fullest again. My personal goal is to show everyone out there that hope is never lost no matter what is thrown at you in life if you work hard, do your best, never give up, and hold true to your dreams. Rise up; it is worth fighting for. I will always offer hope and inspiration to people looking for help.

What happened to me has made me a stronger person inside and out. I believe it happened for a reason: to inspire others. This journey nearly crippled my life, but I refused to let it get the best of me because of my faith and belief there was a reason behind it.

My journey to a complete recovery was a long one, and it was for sure a battle. I want to share my story, to tell people where I have been, hoping to a make a difference in this world in a positive way. I want to let others know any adversity can truly make you into a better person in the long run.

I am forever thankful to my mother, father, and brother as well as my friends and caregivers who helped me along the way. Their support and love provided me the extra courage to keep moving and to never give up.

Senior Garrett Peternel is a contributing writer. His email is gpeternel@fandm.edu.

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