Jun. 23—With the bill of her hat flipped backwards, Haven Shepherd walked slowly to where she was perfectly aligned with the video camera.
She casually flipped the hat around with the words United States Paralympic Team labeled on the front.
The Carthage resident, who earned a spot on Team USA, will be Tokyo-bound for the Paralympic Games this summer.
“I did it,” Shepherd said enthusiastically in a Facebook announcement to the world on Sunday. “I did it. Woooo. Tokyo. I did it. I made the team.”
Shepherd’s story is both inspiring and quite remarkable.
Shepherd was adopted at 13 as a toddler from Vietnam by Rob and Shelly Shepherd shortly after she survived a bomb blast that was ignited by one of her parents in a suicide attempt. Both her biological parents died in the explosion.
Her legs were damaged in the blast and required amputation just below both knees. But Shepherd, who lives with her parents, hasn’t let her disability slow her down one bit.
She has developed into one of the more elite swimmers in the country since first competing as a swimmer when she was 12. The 18-year old is one of 24 women that qualified for the Paralympic team and is set to be one of 11 to make their debuts.
All Shepherd has ever done in her career is win.
In 2019, she captured three medals at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru while also finishing at the top of the podium twice in the 2018 Para Swimming World Series.
Outside of swimming, Shepherd has networked with other disabled athletes in the past along with working as a spokeswoman for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization that provides opportunities for people with physical disabilities in sports.
“I never thought of myself as a role model,” Shepherd told the Globe in a story featured nearly four years ago. “But so many people are broken in the world, and you will never get out of that sadness unless you have somebody to help you.”