Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chanda Gunn

Chanda Gunn, a native of Huntington Beach, California, was Team USA's goaltender at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. That team disappointingly finished with the bronze medal. They were expected to play in the gold medal game, and many felt they could have beaten Canada.

Regardless, Gunn refused to think of Torino as a negative.

"There are a lot of people that want to send us home feeling like failures because we won bronze. I think we refuse that. What the Olympics is all about is character. And we showed more character and grace in defeat than anybody ever could in victory."

Gunn was previously a back up goalie for Team USA at the 2002 Salt Lake Games. She backstopped the country to the gold medal at the 2005 World Championships and a silver medal at the 2007 World Championships.

Gunn is also a celebrated graduate of Northeastern University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Athletic Training and a minor in Religious Studies in 2004. She also was inducted into the athletic Hall of Fame, as she owns practically every female goaltending record in school history. She would return to her Alma mater to become an assistant coach with the Huskies' women's team.

That is quite a life of accomplishment for any young lady. What makes Chanda Gunn's story even more amazing is she has done it all while fighting the nasty disease of epilepsy.

Epilepsy is a somewhat common neurological disease, which if improperly medicated results in seizures.

Gunn had dealt with the disease most of her life, but it was in her first year of college, which was actually at the University of Wisconsin not Northeastern, that her medicine stopped working. She suffered many epileptic attacks and her promising hockey career was feared to be over before it even really began.

It took several weeks but doctors finally found new medicines that allowed Gunn to return a normal life, and return to the ice. She would have to transfer to another college, as Wisconsin was not happy that she had hid the disease from them and their scholarship people. You can't really blame the school - they invested heavily in a goalie who they did not know could play on a regular basis.

Most colleges shied away from Gunn, but Northeastern offered a chance, although they did not guarantee any scholarships. It worked out pretty well for all involved. Gunn became one of the school's most decorated athletes, including winning the prestigious NCAA Sportswoman of the Year in her senior year.

Needless to say, Chanda Gunn has served as a role model to many people with epilepsy.

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