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NEWS | Jan. 23, 2024

One Moment in Time

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

As we wind down our series “Where are they now,” this last Soldier reminds us that kindness matters. Brandi Evans, a retired Army sergeant who served as a medic for ten years, was quiet and unassuming, got hurt, recovered, and ended up on Team Army and Team US through Adaptive Sports. The fever to compete was in full swing, but Evans soon learned that there’s more to life than medals.

At the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia, during the final track event in wheelchair racing, Brandi Evans did something that would change the face of competitive sports and help define what Invictus is all about. After medaling already at the games, Evans knew the night before her next competition she wanted to help Naomi Adie from the UK do the same. "I knew at that moment I would help her in the 1500 race the next day. I knew I wanted to help her instead of going after another medal for myself,” said the multi-sport athlete.

The 1500 started the next day, and Evans didn’t really push her chair. She let Namoi from the UK get ahead of her and encouraged her competitor to push hard and get further ahead. “I don’t think anyone knew what was happening until the final lap. What was I doing? I stayed with Namoi, and at the end, I led her to the finish before me so she could win the Bronze.”

That is now a huge moment in Invictus History – Evans and Adie are on the U.S. President’s Invictus coin for the 2022 games at the Hague. That one moment in time had quite the road traveled to get there, and Brandi Evans could hardly believe it had happened at all. It started just one week before a deployment twenty years ago; Evans was hit by a car while crossing a street in Denver, breaking her hip and knee.

“In 2003, when I was in a wheelchair, no one talked to me about adaptive reconditioning or adaptive sports. I was told I could golf, swim, or bike. I was physically involved with many things, like volleyball, before being injured, so this was not good. Let's say there weren’t a lot of resources back then, certainly not what Soldiers have today,” said Evans, who pointed out that today's Army Recovery Care Program didn’t come around until 2007.

“In 2015, I was a training specialist for the Warrior Transition Battalion (Now Soldier Recovery Unit) at FT Bliss- I had been in this position since 2008 when I got out of the military. I chose that because I didn’t have the resources when I needed them, and I thought I would try to help other Soldiers who needed help in transition to recovery. “

She knew Adaptive Reconditioning existed, but she wasn’t aware of the competitive sports aspect. “I was a reluctant participant. I accidentally fell into Adaptive Sports. I wasn't physically active for a long time. I was involved in meetings for adaptive reconditioning. We helped find Soldiers for the Valor Games. Then, one day, someone in the meeting said Ms. Evans, you’re a Veteran; you should go and compete.” She laughed; the rest is history.

Evans is proudly still working at the Fort Bliss Soldier Recovery Unit. She’s been able to mentor up-and-coming Army Athletes over the years and says it’s important to her.” I take it to heart because I love giving the athletes the kind of help I received through ARCP over the years and continue to receive on my recovery journey.”

The working mom will continue to grow as an athlete and competitor while focusing on her recovery. The example of her determination is something she hopes will resonate with other Soldiers going through hardships in their lives.
“It’s hard to juggle family and life with your passion, but I know I cannot navigate life well without adaptive sports. Take it from me…It will get better. Never give up. You will surprise yourself.”