Disabled Archer Headed to Olympics Uses Teeth to Win Medals, Heal Wounded Soldiers
By Michelle Macaluso
Jeff Fabry is one of the world’s best archers. He’s a five-time Special Games world champion, a three-time Paralympic medalist and he’s aiming for gold at the 2012 Olympics in London this summer.
What makes his talent unique is that Fabry, who has only one arm, has mastered the art of firing arrows with his teeth. Your dentist might advise against it, but Fabry, who will compete on the U.S. Paralympics Team in London, says his chompers are holding up just fine.
“I’ve been doing this for 13 years and my teeth still look and feel the same the first day I started. Everything is going good, luckily,” Fabry said.
But the road to firing arrows with precision was not a straight one. At 15, Fabry lost his arm and a leg in a motorcycle accident.
“My buddies were out hitting the hills hunting and I was stuck at home and I was like, no, I don’t like this, so I figured out a way to shoot and it happened to be with my teeth,” he said.
Fabry pulls the arrow back by biting on a mouthpiece that he made from a nylon dog leash.
“It was trial and error to find what I considered to be the perfect mouthpiece, where I could be proficient,” he said.
Fabry is sharing his passion with our armed forces. He teaches the sport he loves to members of the Wounded Warriors Project, the nonprofit whose mission is to help injured service members cope in civilian society.
“What I’m really proud of is being able to work with our vets who are coming back from the sandbox with different disabilities,” he said.
Jim Castaneda, a member of the Wounded Warriors, said he is thankful that Fabry introduced him to the sport. While serving in the Navy and stationed in the Philippines, Castaneda suffered a traumatic brain injury and a stroke.
“It’s changed my life completely … I found something that I can do and I really enjoy it and love something now,” Castaneda said.