McKenna's Paralympic Dream
Organized by: McKenna Dahl
My name is McKenna Dahl and I am a member of the National Paralympic Shooting Team. I was born with amyoplasia arthrogryposis, which is the loss of muscle and contracture of joints at birth. I can walk, but use a wheelchair for long distances and for my biggest passion: shooting. When I was 6, I was the youngest person to attend Camp Access: a three-day outdoor camp for children with disabilities. Its purpose was to show kids that their disability did not have to limit them in any way. We were taken kayaking, sailing, biking, inner tubing, bowling, and most importantly, shooting. Camp Access opened a world of opportunities for me. The year you turned 12, you got the chance to go shooting with the older kids. My life was completely changed. I fell in love with shooting and the camp director, Ernie Butler, noticed. Months later, in the beginning of 2010, he invited me to shoot a NRA air rifle match he was hosting. Four weeks later, I was shooting in the match that started my career. I was put in contact with Bob Foth, the National Paralympic Coach. At the end of the year, I was invited out to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs for a Paralympic Training Camp. Completely hooked, I traveled back to the OTC and to national matches for the next two years. January of 2013, I traveled to Austria for my first international competition. Six months later, I earned a spot on the National Development Team. August 2013, I earned a gold medal in the falling target event at the Thailand World Cup. It was an amazing feeling to see the American flag being raised and listening to the National Anthem. It became my dream to represent the United States at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Two weeks after I graduated high school, with my associate’s degree in hand, I became a resident athlete at the OTC. In August of 2014, I attended the IPC Shooting World Championships in Suhl, Germany. Here, I earned the first quota slot for the United States. Quota slots are the entry ticket into the Games; one athlete spot can attend the Games for each quota slot earned. I was announced as a member of the National Paralympic Shooting Team a month later. In order to gain the experience needed to perform well in Rio, our coach recommended traveling to every competition this year. However, our program grew significantly compared to the team we had traveling to the London Paralympics. The budget did not grow with us. I reach out to you today asking for help in reaching my dream. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.