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Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux veteran training for Paralympics

The following story was written and reported by Richie Richards, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Samantha Tucker practices her sport. Photo courtesy Samantha Tucker

2016 Paralympics drives OST amputee
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer

COLORADO SPRINGS –– Samantha (Sam) Tucker, an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is a U.S. Air Force Veteran with 11 years of civil service with the U.S. Army.

While serving as the public affairs officer for the 533rd Engineer Detachment Forward Engineer Support Team out of Fort Knox, Ky., Tucker was enjoying an afternoon on her motorcycle going to watch friends participate in a local karaoke contest when the accident happened.

Traveling at 45 mph down a road she had never driven prior, Tucker was following friends when next thing she remembers is being dragged down the road.

Sparks were flying as steel and flesh grinded the pavement as she came to rest in a ditch; engine running and tire still spinning.

A friend comforted her as she looked at her arm realizing amputation was likely going to be needed. As a result of this Oct. 8, 2010 motorcycle accident Sam has been a below elbow amputee; living and adjusting to a life to which normalcy has been dictated by the limitations of a physical disability.

But, this has not held Tucker back. She is a woman of faith who has used her strong Christian beliefs and physical challenges as a stepping stone from which to reach out and help others.

Since her adjustment to living the life of an amputee, Tucker has been actively participating in fundraising campaigns, social awareness events, and visiting other amputees to help with their health care and emotional support.

She has started “Limbs of Triumph” to help raise funds for Marie-Natha, a teen in need of new prosthetic hands. She met the 16 year-old while working as a volunteer as an amputee clinic in Haiti.

While traveling the country and abroad as an advocate, Tucker became a certified peer visitor with Amputee Empowerment. She presented as a patient model and advocate with clinicians for Touch Bionics at numerous clinics and colleges.

This proud Lakota leader has volunteered at many events in support of the AMVETS Department of California. AMVETS assists both active and honorably discharged military personnel with free VA claims assistance, public policy advocacy, patriotic community programming, blood drives, military funeral and honor guard services, as well as other support needs.

Tucker has been working on a platform to take her passion for helping others to a larger forum with reaching as much as the public as possible.

She is a vital part of a group of entrepreneurs developing technology to assist amputees and individuals with lower-body mobility problems to improve function and provide early detection of further gait deterioration leading to injuries acquired during falls.

In sharing her passion for life with others Tucker has taken to archery as a challenge to all challenges for a below elbow amputee. Living by her motto of “Impossible is an Opinion, Not a Fact” she has overcome the physical limitations of shooting her bow by using a mouth tab. She draws and shoots with her mouth in coordination with her arm unaffected by the motorcycle accident.

Just three weeks after picking up a bow for the first time, she competed in the 2014 Valor Games Far West held in the San Francisco Bay Area; an event for introductory-level sports competitors who are veterans and active members with disabilities.

She earned a gold medal in beginning archery and shot the highest score of 294/300 of all competitors in all categories that day.

Not only did she win gold in archery, but also went on to win gold in swimming and discus, with a bronze medal in shot put and cycling. This below elbow amputee is a true athletic competitor.

By invitation-only, she then went on to attend the Spire Institute Gold Medalist Camp in Geneva Ohio and the Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego for continued coaching. While in San Diego, she met Randi Smith, U.S. Para-Archery Head Coach; soon after Coach Smith brought her to an Emerging Athlete Archery Clinic for more intense and focused training in archery. It was during this training with Coach Smith that she set her goal of qualifying for the U.S. Para Archery Team.

In recent months, Tucker has moved to Colorado Springs to train under two U.S. Para Archery coaches. In addition to the 18-20 hours spent weekly with one-on-one training with her coaches, she also spends 10-12 hours of physical training and numerous hours of independent practice.

If that isn’t enough, she is the primary caretaker of a roommate and emerging athlete with Multiple Sclerosis.

In January 2015, she competed against able-bodied archers in the Colorado State Archery Association Winter Indoor Vegas 450 Championship. There, she had a score of 809/900; a very impressive showing for her first indoor competition.

In February, she competed at the Indoor Nationals held in Albuquerque, N.M. She did well at this competing against hundreds of archers.

Because of her demonstrated ability to shoot under pressure, her intense focus and natural ability, her coaches believe she is capable of making the U.S. Para Archery Team this year.

She will be representing the Oglala Sioux Tribe, her military brothers and sisters, as well as all those who have had their life altered by a tragic event which has left them with physical limitations.

Tucker has set her goal high; as she is training diligently to win a gold medal in Para Archery at the 2016 Paralympics being held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

If you would like more information about Samantha Tucker or would like to donate or help sponsor her during training for the 2016 Paralympics please contact Samantha at

(Contact Richie Richards at

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