GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Every athlete has a story. Those stories inspired people in Colorado to fill a brewery Monday night to watch a competition halfway around the world.
"It’s amazing to watch their resilience," said Steve Raymond, one of the heads of Adaptive Spirit, a group that fundraises for the U.S. Paralympic ski and snowboard team. "The American team is 67 athletes. Ten of them are from Colorado."
Of all the members of Team USA, few have a story as powerful as Oksana Masters.
Masters was born in Ukraine in 1989, three years after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster. Because of the radiation, she was born with six toes on each foot, five webbed fingers and no thumbs.
Coming into the 2022 games, she had won five gold medals, four silver and three bronze over six Paralympic Games.
Masters has competed in the winter and summer Paralympics. She’s earned medals in rowing, cycling, cross country skiing and biathlon.
"Oksana was born in Ukraine. She was adopted by a U.S. mother," Raymond said. "She was actually a Chernobyl baby."
Adaptive Spirit hosted the event Monday night at Holidaily Brewing Co. The organization has raised more than $20 million since it was founded to help fund Paralympians.
"We have to raise all the money ourselves," Raymond said. "The U.S. government doesn’t provide funding for the Paralympic team. We go out and get private donations."
Charlie Huebner is a member of the Olympic and Paralympic Foundation. He knows Masters and loves watching her compete.
"She’s an incredible, incredible athlete, but more importantly an incredible ambassador for the United States of America," Huebner said. "Four years ago, she broke her elbow three weeks before the Games and still went and won five medals for the United States of America."
On Monday, they gathered to cheer on Masters and the rest of Team USA as Team USA's Kendall Gretsch got gold and Masters added a silver medal in the biathlon to her incredible story.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Sports