TOPEKA (KSNT) – Dan Cnossen spoke to juniors from multiple Shawnee County high schools Wednesday about his journey from being a Navy Seal to a now decorated Paralympian.

Cnossen graduated from Shawnee Heights in 1998, and then went on to attend the U.S Naval Academy to eventually become a Navy Seal. While employed in Afghanistan, Cnossen says he stepped on an explosive, leaving him in critical condition.

He survived, but lost both of his legs. Cnossen wants to show kids that no matter what happens, there is always a reason to persevere.

“There are things that are irrelevant, and then there are things that are relevant, to what you could be doing to improve your situation and work your way through this challenging moment,” Cnossen said. “So that’s the number one thing I would want them to take away.”

Cnossen most recently won a gold medal participating in the Mixed Cross Country Relay at the 2022 Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing.