Qualities of the spirit often save people from being defeated by the hard breaks in life, and the spirit of competition saved Chad McDuffee, an injured veteran of the Iraq War, from the darkness of anger and despair his wounds and battle experience brought down on him. The Ballinger native's participation in the Warrior Games, and soon after the Valor Games Midwest, revived his spirit, helped him keep depression and fear at bay, and put love and respect back in his family life. This is his story.      Caption:  Chad and Jaslyn McDuffee share a ride on the Ferris Wheel on Chicago's Navy Pier. The McDuffees traveled to Chicago from their home in Ballinger so Chad could participate in the 2013 Valor Games Midwest, a Paralympic event for wounded veterans. McDuffee lost the use of his right foot after sustaining an injury while on deployment in Iraq in 2006 and dreams of earning a spot on the U.S. Paralympic National Team in time for the 2016 games in Brazil.

Qualities of the spirit often save people from being defeated by the hard breaks in life, and the spirit of competition saved Chad McDuffee, an injured veteran of the Iraq War, from the darkness of anger and despair his wounds and battle experience brought down on him. The Ballinger native's participation in the Warrior Games, and soon after the Valor Games Midwest, revived his spirit, helped him keep depression and fear at bay, and put love and respect back in his family life. This is his story.

 

Caption: Chad and Jaslyn McDuffee share a ride on the Ferris Wheel on Chicago's Navy Pier. The McDuffees traveled to Chicago from their home in Ballinger so Chad could participate in the 2013 Valor Games Midwest, a Paralympic event for wounded veterans. McDuffee lost the use of his right foot after sustaining an injury while on deployment in Iraq in 2006 and dreams of earning a spot on the U.S. Paralympic National Team in time for the 2016 games in Brazil.

 Chad McDuffee works on his shot put skills during a training session at Ballinger High School. McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, sustained an injury to his right foot while deployed in Iraq which caused him to retire from the military. McDuffee now competes as a paralympic athlete in track and field and will be heading the the 2013 Valor Games in Chicago in August.

Chad McDuffee works on his shot put skills during a training session at Ballinger High School. McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, sustained an injury to his right foot while deployed in Iraq which caused him to retire from the military. McDuffee now competes as a paralympic athlete in track and field and will be heading the the 2013 Valor Games in Chicago in August.

 Chad McDuffee (right) shares a light-hearted moment with his son Chaz, 2, during a training session at Ballinger High School. McDuffee is an Army combat veteran who suffered what would become a career-ending foot injury while deployed on his first tour in Iraq. To cope with the anger of losing the use of his right foot, McDuffee now competes in track and field events and will be heading to Chicago for the 2013 Valor Games.

Chad McDuffee (right) shares a light-hearted moment with his son Chaz, 2, during a training session at Ballinger High School. McDuffee is an Army combat veteran who suffered what would become a career-ending foot injury while deployed on his first tour in Iraq. To cope with the anger of losing the use of his right foot, McDuffee now competes in track and field events and will be heading to Chicago for the 2013 Valor Games.

 Chad McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, works on his shot put skills at Ballinger High School Friday morning. McDuffee suffered what would become a career-ending foot injury while deployed on his first tour in Iraq. McDuffee now competes as a paralympic athlete in track and field and will be competing at the 2013 Valor Games in Chicago in August.

Chad McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, works on his shot put skills at Ballinger High School Friday morning. McDuffee suffered what would become a career-ending foot injury while deployed on his first tour in Iraq. McDuffee now competes as a paralympic athlete in track and field and will be competing at the 2013 Valor Games in Chicago in August.

 Chaz McDuffee, 2, helps his father Chad with a discus Friday morning during a training session at Ballinger High School. Chad McDuffee is an Army combat veteran who suffered a foot injury while deployed in Iraq. Now, technically classified as a below-the-knee amputee, McDuffee competes in track and field events as a paralympic athlete and is headed to Chicago in August to compete in the 2013 Valor Games.

Chaz McDuffee, 2, helps his father Chad with a discus Friday morning during a training session at Ballinger High School. Chad McDuffee is an Army combat veteran who suffered a foot injury while deployed in Iraq. Now, technically classified as a below-the-knee amputee, McDuffee competes in track and field events as a paralympic athlete and is headed to Chicago in August to compete in the 2013 Valor Games.

 Chad McDuffee works on his shot put technique Friday morning at Ballinger High School. McDuffee, 30, is an Army combat veteran who suffered what would become a career-ending foot injury while deployed in Iraq. To cope with the anger and depression of losing the use of his right foot, McDuffee turned to track and field and has been competing as a paralympic athlete in events such as the seated shot put, discus, javelin and power lifting.

Chad McDuffee works on his shot put technique Friday morning at Ballinger High School. McDuffee, 30, is an Army combat veteran who suffered what would become a career-ending foot injury while deployed in Iraq. To cope with the anger and depression of losing the use of his right foot, McDuffee turned to track and field and has been competing as a paralympic athlete in events such as the seated shot put, discus, javelin and power lifting.

 Chad McDuffee walks back to the throwing circle after retrieving his discus Friday morning during a training session at Ballinger High School. McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, has taken up competing in track and field events as a paralympic athlete after suffering a foot injury while deployed in Iraq.

Chad McDuffee walks back to the throwing circle after retrieving his discus Friday morning during a training session at Ballinger High School. McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, has taken up competing in track and field events as a paralympic athlete after suffering a foot injury while deployed in Iraq.

 Chad McDuffee sits with his wife Jaslyn in their Ballinger home as their youngest child, Cade, plays. McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, was injured during his first tour in Iraq and has now lost the use of his right foot. "It was difficult to watch him go through the process of rehabilitation," said Jaslyn McDuffee. "But since he started competing in track and field events, his smile has come back."

Chad McDuffee sits with his wife Jaslyn in their Ballinger home as their youngest child, Cade, plays. McDuffee, an Army combat veteran, was injured during his first tour in Iraq and has now lost the use of his right foot. "It was difficult to watch him go through the process of rehabilitation," said Jaslyn McDuffee. "But since he started competing in track and field events, his smile has come back."

 In just his first year competing in track and field events as a paralympic athlete, Chad McDuffee has earned several medals including two gold medals at the Endeavor Games at the University of Central Oklahoma.

In just his first year competing in track and field events as a paralympic athlete, Chad McDuffee has earned several medals including two gold medals at the Endeavor Games at the University of Central Oklahoma.

 Chad McDuffee begins packing the family car to make the long drive to Chicago for the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee, a former Army sergeant, suffered a career-ending injury to his right foot and took up training for paralympic games as a way to cope with his physical and mental disabilities.

Chad McDuffee begins packing the family car to make the long drive to Chicago for the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee, a former Army sergeant, suffered a career-ending injury to his right foot and took up training for paralympic games as a way to cope with his physical and mental disabilities.

 While packing the family car for the cross-country drive to Chicago, Chad McDuffee received a phone call from Operation Homefront, an organization the provides emergency financial aid and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. The call was to inform McDuffee that the organization was going to provide funds for a specialized athletic throwing chair, a piece of vital equipment for his training, so that he could pursue his dream of training for the U.S. Paralympic National Team.

While packing the family car for the cross-country drive to Chicago, Chad McDuffee received a phone call from Operation Homefront, an organization the provides emergency financial aid and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. The call was to inform McDuffee that the organization was going to provide funds for a specialized athletic throwing chair, a piece of vital equipment for his training, so that he could pursue his dream of training for the U.S. Paralympic National Team.

 Chad McDuffee packs the family car for the long drive to Chicago as his wife Jaslyn plays with their sons Chaz and Cade in the driveway of their Ballinger home. McDuffee took up training for the Paralympic Games as part of his rehabilitation after suffering a career-ending injury to his right foot while deployed in Iraq with the Army.

Chad McDuffee packs the family car for the long drive to Chicago as his wife Jaslyn plays with their sons Chaz and Cade in the driveway of their Ballinger home. McDuffee took up training for the Paralympic Games as part of his rehabilitation after suffering a career-ending injury to his right foot while deployed in Iraq with the Army.

 Jaslyn McDuffee breaks down in tears after her husband Chad informed her that Operation Homefront was going to provide the funds for his specialized athletic throwing chair. The organization provides emergency financial aid to families of service members and wounded warriors.

Jaslyn McDuffee breaks down in tears after her husband Chad informed her that Operation Homefront was going to provide the funds for his specialized athletic throwing chair. The organization provides emergency financial aid to families of service members and wounded warriors.

 Chad McDuffee (left) walks hand-in-hand with his four-year-old daughter Alana and wife Jaslyn as they make their way to the South Lot of Soldier Field in Chicago for the cycling competition of the 2013 Valor Games Midwest. McDuffee, an Iraq War combat veteran with the Army, suffered a career-ending injury in 2006 to his right foot when his convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device. Now, McDuffee competes in paralympic games to help his cope with being disabled physically and mentally.

Chad McDuffee (left) walks hand-in-hand with his four-year-old daughter Alana and wife Jaslyn as they make their way to the South Lot of Soldier Field in Chicago for the cycling competition of the 2013 Valor Games Midwest. McDuffee, an Iraq War combat veteran with the Army, suffered a career-ending injury in 2006 to his right foot when his convoy was struck by an improvised explosive device. Now, McDuffee competes in paralympic games to help his cope with being disabled physically and mentally.

 Chad McDuffee, an Iraq War combat veteran, receives a kiss from his four-year-old daughter Alana before his competition in the cycling competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee, who had previously never competed in cycling, qualified for the finals in his division and came in fifth place. "That was just a ton of fun," McDuffe said.

Chad McDuffee, an Iraq War combat veteran, receives a kiss from his four-year-old daughter Alana before his competition in the cycling competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee, who had previously never competed in cycling, qualified for the finals in his division and came in fifth place. "That was just a ton of fun," McDuffe said.

 Cheering from the sidelines, Divad Briones (left), Jaslyn (center) and Alana McDuffee, 4, look on as Chad McDuffee speeds by on a recumbent bike during the cycling competition at the 2013 Valor Game Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee, an Iraq War combat veteran, suffered an injury to his right foot during deployment rendering it useless but has found paralympic competition as a way to cope with his disability.

Cheering from the sidelines, Divad Briones (left), Jaslyn (center) and Alana McDuffee, 4, look on as Chad McDuffee speeds by on a recumbent bike during the cycling competition at the 2013 Valor Game Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee, an Iraq War combat veteran, suffered an injury to his right foot during deployment rendering it useless but has found paralympic competition as a way to cope with his disability.

 Chad McDuffee speeds around the track set up in the South Lot of Chicago's Soldier Field during the cycling competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest.

Chad McDuffee speeds around the track set up in the South Lot of Chicago's Soldier Field during the cycling competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest.

 Chad McDuffee walks with his nephew Divad Briones (left) and wife Jaslyn and daughter Alana during a family outing to Chicago's Navy Pier. The McDuffees traveled to Chicago from their home in Ballinger, Texas so Chad could compete in the 2013  Valor Games Midwest, a paralympic athletic event for wounded veterans.

Chad McDuffee walks with his nephew Divad Briones (left) and wife Jaslyn and daughter Alana during a family outing to Chicago's Navy Pier. The McDuffees traveled to Chicago from their home in Ballinger, Texas so Chad could compete in the 2013  Valor Games Midwest, a paralympic athletic event for wounded veterans.

 Chad McDuffee holds on to his nephew Divad Briones as they make their way through the various lines for rides during a family outing on Chicago's Navy Pier. McDuffee and his family went Chicago for the 2013 Valor Games Midwest where McDuffee competed in paralympic events to pursue his dream of making the U.S. Paralympic National Team.

Chad McDuffee holds on to his nephew Divad Briones as they make their way through the various lines for rides during a family outing on Chicago's Navy Pier. McDuffee and his family went Chicago for the 2013 Valor Games Midwest where McDuffee competed in paralympic events to pursue his dream of making the U.S. Paralympic National Team.

 Strapped into a specialized throwing chair anchored to the ground, Chad McDuffee competes in the sitting discus competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago's Armour Square Park. McDuffee, who has aspirations of trying out for the U.S. Paralympic National Team, had a throw of 19.45 meters, earning him a silver medal in his division.

Strapped into a specialized throwing chair anchored to the ground, Chad McDuffee competes in the sitting discus competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago's Armour Square Park. McDuffee, who has aspirations of trying out for the U.S. Paralympic National Team, had a throw of 19.45 meters, earning him a silver medal in his division.

 Chad McDuffee talks with fellow Valor Games Midwest competitor and Army veteran Noah Galloway (left) as they prepare for the shot put competition at Armour Square Park in Chicago. Galloway, the keynote speaker of the 2013 Valor Games Midwest opening ceremony, lost his left arm and leg to an IED attack while serving in the Army in Iraq.

Chad McDuffee talks with fellow Valor Games Midwest competitor and Army veteran Noah Galloway (left) as they prepare for the shot put competition at Armour Square Park in Chicago. Galloway, the keynote speaker of the 2013 Valor Games Midwest opening ceremony, lost his left arm and leg to an IED attack while serving in the Army in Iraq.

 Chad McDuffee prepares for his first toss in the sitting shot put competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee's longest throw was 9.12 meters earning him a a gold medal in his division. "I could have done better," McDuffee said after his final throw. "Something felt off."

Chad McDuffee prepares for his first toss in the sitting shot put competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee's longest throw was 9.12 meters earning him a a gold medal in his division. "I could have done better," McDuffee said after his final throw. "Something felt off."

 Chad McDuffee gives a big smile after receiving a gold medal in the sitting shot put competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee would go on to earn a silver medal in the sitting discus that same day.

Chad McDuffee gives a big smile after receiving a gold medal in the sitting shot put competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee would go on to earn a silver medal in the sitting discus that same day.

 Chad McDuffee gets a high five from his daughter Alana after earning two medals on the second day of competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee earned a gold medal in sitting shot put and a silver in sitting discus.

Chad McDuffee gets a high five from his daughter Alana after earning two medals on the second day of competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee earned a gold medal in sitting shot put and a silver in sitting discus.

 Chad McDuffee and his wife Jaslyn share a tender moment after McDuffee was award a gold medal for his efforts in the sitting shot put at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee also won a silver in the sitting discus and a gold in powerlifting.

Chad McDuffee and his wife Jaslyn share a tender moment after McDuffee was award a gold medal for his efforts in the sitting shot put at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest in Chicago. McDuffee also won a silver in the sitting discus and a gold in powerlifting.

 Retired Army combat veteran Chad MCDuffee walks with his wife Jaslyn through Armour Square Park on Chicago's soutside on the final day of competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest. McDuffee, who suffered career-ending injuries to his right foot while deployed in Iraq, took up training for paralympic games as part of his rehabilitation and now has aspirations of making the U.S. National Paralympic Team in time for the 2016 Brazil games.

Retired Army combat veteran Chad MCDuffee walks with his wife Jaslyn through Armour Square Park on Chicago's soutside on the final day of competition at the 2013 Valor Games Midwest. McDuffee, who suffered career-ending injuries to his right foot while deployed in Iraq, took up training for paralympic games as part of his rehabilitation and now has aspirations of making the U.S. National Paralympic Team in time for the 2016 Brazil games.