When Dustin Gunter was eight years old, his life changed forever.
“When I woke up from my 10 days in a coma it took about three days to open my eyes by myself and I couldn’t remember a thing after that. I was like a newborn baby,” Gunter said
An ATV accident left him unable to walk, and a handlebar from the vehicle that penetrated his skull left him with a traumatic brain injury, but his spirit has never wavered.
“Wreck wasn’t nothing bad really, I mean it was. they said I died and came back to life like three times, I think that’s a little bit bad,” the Hoyt native joked.
Even when he couldn’t walk, he never lost hope and has willed himself back to being an athlete. He’s been training to be a Paralympian sprinter for a few years now. his drive was solidified at Royal Valley High School. Although he could never compete for the panthers, he always did what he could to be around athletics.
“Immediately he came to football practice, he was helping the kickers, and help us with football, then he’d ask if he could come to track practice and I was like ‘yea Dustin come on.’ He really was a good example for our young people,” head track and field coach David Boucher said.
After overcoming so much and starting to see his goal form, more tragedy struck. he lost his best friend, Matthew Bailey, in a car accident.
“Exactly a year ago now, he got in a car accident on the highway and he just passed away. It was the hardest thing to believe, he was like a brother to me, I always cared about him, he always cared about me. So I was like this year’s for him.”
And he’s made the most of the year so far, Dustin currently ranks 9th in the world in his section of the 100-meter dash and he’s on the cusp of making his paralympic dreams a reality. his work ethic sets him apart.
“Once he sets a goal…..it’s almost like you have to hold him back, he works out so hard, and there’s no stop in him,” former Royal Valley sprinters coach Russell Hodison said.
There were doubts in his mind early on, but the community lifted him up. He’s on a mission to do the impossible and inspire others while doing it
“And like i tell every kid that I know, at practice or at the meet, when you race and you’re ready to go, you’ve got to overcome your fears, and you’ve got to push yourself over the limit, if you don’t push over your limit it’s gonna stay the same for the rest of your life.”