Seven years ago, I sat across from Tara in her wheelchair for our first interview, when she told me unequivocally that she would walk again. Whether it was through sheer willpower or scientific intervention, she was determined to regain what had been taken from her life. Her confidence was so strong that she made me believe it too. And for years Tara poured her heart into making it a reality.
But something has changed.
At the time Tara suffered a complete spinal cord injury 3487 days ago at the Jeep King of the Mountain race in 2007, she had been invited to try out for the US Olympic BMX team. Her riding career to that point had included years of BMX and downhill racing that included 4 US National Championship titles, 1 World Championship win (although not a rainbow event until the next year, thus not giving her the World Championship jersey), and 4 ESPN X-Games medals. She was a character in Playstation’s game Downhill Domination and was a featured athlete in Maxim Magazine. But instead of heading to a national training camp, she would spend her next few years in physical therapy, undergoing painful surgeries, and trying desperately to hold on to the sport that had determined her path since age eleven. Her world had turned upside down and was spinning on around her, without her.