“No Obstacle Too Big” for Spirit of Ability Winner

There are few things as aptly named as the easy way. It is something we take without even realizing it. It is just that easy. On the other hand, one of the hardest things to do is to consciously fight against that easy way, become aware of it, and choose to do more. This mindset of courage is one that is not easily held.

Optimized-Holly-and-MCmobility-300x199“No obstacle too big” is the personal motto of Holly Koester, the recipient of the fourth Ralph W. Braun Spirit of Ability award. Holly was a Captain in the United States Army when her vehicle hit a temporary road and rolled over. The incident resulted in a spinal cord injury that left her without the use of her legs. The easy road is the furthest thing from what would happen next.

“I always try to make the most of every opportunity,” said Holly. “Each day is a new day.”

Since her injury, Holly has competed in 23 National Veteran’s Wheelchair Games, has completed a marathon in all 50 states, currently serves on the board and as spokesperson for the Buckeye chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and as Sports Director for the chapter, and was a Cheerio’s cereal box honoree in 2008, and more. Holly’s twin sister, Joy, still serves in the Army Reserve as a Colonel. She is also quite the dog person. Her service dog, Glory (a charcoal lab), and she are a part of 2 dog clubs, and Holly teaches obedience classes. The Dodge Caravan is her vehicle of choice.Optimized-Crowd with Mikhail

Optimized-Crowd-with-Mikhail-300x199We caught up with Holly at the Mid-Ohio Day at the Races event on Friday, Aug 1. Sam Schmidt, a quadriplegic and IndyCar team owner (former driver), was present to give Holly the award. The PVA came to the event in big numbers to support her and help celebrate the award. Food, a tour of the track, and other race-themed goodies awaited Day at the Races attendees and Holly after her ceremony.

In addition to the award, a $1,000 donation will be made to the disability-related cause of Koester’s choice. The organization she chose is the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). The PVA works to create an America where all veterans and people with disabilities, and their families, have everything they need to live full and productive lives.

WMFD of Mansfield, OH., was on hand and featured the event on the evening news.