Steve Emt is grateful for the opportunity to compete at the 2022 Winter Paralympics.
“There’s been a lot of reflection going on in my life and a lot of appreciation,” said Emt, a member of Team USA Curling. “To be able to wear the Team USA gear again, now a two-time Paralympian is something I’m extremely proud of.”
The Hebron native has a lot to be grateful for. Twenty-seven years ago, Emt’s life changed forever.
“March 24, 1995, when I was 25 years old, I made a terrible decision to get behind the wheel of my truck after I’d been drinking,” said Emt. “The next thing I remember now is waking up from my coma and basically being told right away that I was in an awful automobile accident and I’m never going to walk again. I allowed all of these negative thoughts to come into my mind. Maybe this world is a better place without me in it.”
After a few days of feeling sorry himself, Emt had a moment of clarity and changed his mindset.
“Until we accept what has happened, we can’t start the healing process,” said Emt. “If we can just flip our minds to say ‘alright, I’m going to forget about the event for now and concentrate on how we respond to that event,’ that’s what we’re in control of.”
For years after his accident, Emt searched for a way to satisfy his competitive spirit.
“I needed to compete, I’ve got it in me,” said Emt. “I need to compete.”
A chance encounter with a man named Tony Colacchio in Cape Cod got the ball rolling on Emt’s next chapter.
“He says to me ‘I saw you rolling up the hill and I train with the Paralympic curling team here on the Cape and with your body and your build, I can make you into an Olympian within a year,'” said Emt. “To [which] I’m like, ‘what the heck is curling?’ And then I heard the Olympics so where do I sign up?”
Not even Emt expected the game would take him this far.
“Absolutely fell in love with the sport, everything about the sport, the people, the places and now where it’s brought me all around the world and again given me the opportunity to compete at the highest level,” said Emt.
Since his first Paralympics, he’s used his story to inspire others, becoming a motivational speaker and even writing a book.
“I love the emails and the texts and the comments I’m getting from people all over the world who read my book or heard my story saying ‘hey there is a life after – no matter what I’ve been through in my life, I can get on and do it’ and that’s just it, I tell people it’s not ‘I can do this’ – ‘I will do this,'” said Emt.
Now heading to his second games, Emt is more experienced and ready to learn from the mistakes he made in 2018.
“I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen mentally, physically,” said Emt. “I thought I was good and we went out there and didn’t do very well. We actually came in last place.”
As the only returner on the team from four years ago, Emt is going to Beijing expecting to end up on the podium.
“When we come back with a medal from Beijing, it’s going to be so rewarding because of the fact that – and I know it sounds cliche – but anything is possible,” said Emt.
The 2022 Paralympics begin on March 4. NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app will live stream all of the action.