Inspiring tale for local athletes

Inspiring tale for local athletes

Local youth athletes and sports fans got an inspiring lesson in duty, dedication and overcoming all obstacles at Alexandria Sportsmans Clubs running night Tuesday. 
Dawn Halfaker, a college basketball player recruited by West Point and now a member of the Armys Wounded Warrior program, spoke about her experience in the military and in Iraq including the 2004 ambush of her platoon that cost her an arm. A second lieutenant in the military police, Halfaker was leading a reconnaissance patrol when her unit came under fire.
We came around the corner and we got ambushed, took a lot of heavy fire including rocket propelled grenades, she said. Essentially the bad guys hit us and one of the rocket-propelled grenades came in through the [Humvee] window and took off my arm.
After spending about five months in a coma, Halfaker awoke to the sound of her parents voices. Thats when the real work started, she said. 
Rehabilitation meant learning how to do everything from brushing her teeth to buttoning her shirts with her left hand. A lifelong athlete, Halfaker credited her sports experience for her recovery.
Im very lucky, she said. Ive been able to move on. I got back into sports. It was really kind of the foundation of who I was Being an athlete and being strong and being a soldier and knowing how to adapt and overcome afforded me the ability to move on from that time and move forward.
While the former shooting guard doesnt spend much time on the court anymore its difficult with one arm, she said Halfaker runs road races, plays tennis and snowboards in her spare time. 
And despite her grave wounds, the San Diego native told the audience of area families that her decision to go to West Point and join the military was the best she ever made.
My experience there was very fulfilling, incredibly challenging and it really helped me become who I am and gave me a lot of building blocks I would need later in life, she said. I had a great time. I travelled all over the world. I promise, not everyone ends up like me. Obviously, its a big commitment, but its very worthwhile. Its just one of the more noble things a person can do.
Halfakers werent the only inspiring words at the Alexandria Sportsmans Club. Local businessman Chris Farley, general manager of Pacers Running Stores, spoke about finding his path in life through his passion for running.  
An Arlington native, Farley posted his personal best running time during a meet hosted by T.C. Williams and ran in college for the University of Virginia. Holding a government job in the late 1990s, he started working part-time at Pacers. 
It wasnt long after that Farley realized what he wanted to do with his life. 
I was helping customers, it was community-based, it was in sports and finally it was something I found myself good at, he said. I convinced my parents to take out a mortgage and buy the store from previous owners thats the best sale I ever made.