Physical Challenge: Bilateral Amputee
Sport: Swimming, Triathlon
Now a CAF Ambassador, Roderick Sewell never dreamed of participating in sports as he and his mother lived hand to mouth. Today, he is a swimmer representing Team USA.
Roderick had both legs amputated before his second birthday due to severe deformities that prevented him from walking. Roderick’s mother quit her job so that California Children’s services would pay for prosthetics since her modest income couldn’t provide enough to cover them.
Roderick became homeless. It wasn’t until a representative from Challenged Athletes Foundation met Roderick that he even considered playing sports. Suddenly, Roderick realized he wasn’t alone. After discovering CAF at age 8, Sewell dove headfirst into a wide variety of athletic activities.
Roderick met Rudy Garcia-Tolson through CAF, a fellow bilateral above-knee amputee. Friendship and support quickly formed through solidarity and Roderick found him following Rudy onto the track then eventually into the water.
“Sports changed my attitude about life,” explains Roderick. “As soon as I started doing sports, I became very competitive and saw everything as a challenge that I had to get through. I started seeing life the same way, as a challenge that I could get through.”
Roderick has since competed in the 2014 Pan Pacific Para Swimming Championships, bringing home a Gold and Bronze medal. Roderick Sewell is the first bilateral above-the-knee amputee to finish the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona on prosthetic legs. Roderick has been supported by CAF since he was eight years old through numerous grants for adaptive sports equipment, training and competition expenses. CAF adaptive swim coaches Alan Voisard and Alison Terry taught Roderick how to swim, and he is now a member of the US Paralympic Swim Team, a first-generation college graduate with a Public Communications degree from the University of Northern Alabama, and a mentor and coach at his local YMCA.