HOYT (KSNT) – Dustin Gunter has been defying odds since he was 8-years-old.
“You can’t predict a brain injury,” Linda Inman, Gunter’s mom, said.
Gunter grew up in Hoyt, Kansas, just north of Topeka. He loved to follow his dad around and had a ton of energy. That little boy grew up to be an olympian. A paralympian, actually.
Gunter got into an ATV accident when he was just 8-years-old.
“I was so bad, they didn’t know if I could survive that,” he said.
The brake handle went through his skull and into his brain.
“That side of the brain has pretty much died off, and the grey matter is gone,” Inman said.
Gunter was in the hospital for two months. He left paralyzed, and his left arm tendons had been ripped from his spine.
“I thought about ‘you know what, I don’t want to be in a wheelchair no more,’ and I just pushed myself harder and I learned how to walk,” Gunter said.
The accident didn’t take his spirit. With 6-8 months of intensive therapy, Gunter was out of a wheelchair in just under a year.
“It was hard,” Gunter said. “When I woke up in the morning, I could never get up by myself, and that’s the thing that made me wake up and push myself further.”
To him, the obvious next step was jogging, then running.
“My friends taught me how to run and after that, people would watch me and they’re, like, so excited because I just run and try to go a little bit faster,” Gunter said.
Now, he represents his country in a different way.
“I compete in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash for team USA,” Gunter said.
He is first in the United States and fourth in the world for the 200-meter-dash.
“He brings a whole new energy every time we go run and every time we’re in the gym, every time we’re together,” Max Hennis, Gunter’s best friend, said. “He’s just always got a smile on his face. You just can’t beat the mentality he has.”
He follows a rigorous training schedule and works a job, but he finds time to be a volunteer track coach at his alma mater, Royal Valley High School.
“When you bring Dusty on, it’s like five assistant coaches,” Nathan Smith, Royal Valley track coach, said. “The amount of energy and excitement, and encouragement, he brings to the team.”
“I was struggling with my hip because it hurt in practice, but he was right beside me just telling me ‘come on Bri, you got this,’ and just encouraging me to do better and it made me laugh,” Breauna Jewell, Royal Valley track athlete, said.
Gunter believes he wouldn’t be the positive and impactful person he is today without his accident.
“If you push yourself over the limit, you will always follow your dream and pass your limits,” Gunter said.