PHOTO: Ignite is bringing 2012 Paralympic silver medalist Matt Stutzman to Monticello on March 11. The public is encouraged to attend and hear Matt’s amazing story. (Photo submitted)
By Kim Brooks, Express Editor
On March 11, Ignite: Jones County Young Professionals is welcoming a 2012 U.S. Paralympic silver medalist in archery to Jones County. Matt Stutzman, a native of Fairfield, Iowa, competed in the 2012 Paralympics in London and took home a silver medal for this country. His amazing story about overcoming his disability and inspiring others will be told to a crowd at Camp Courageous.
Stutzman, who just turned 31, was born without arms. His biography, penned by his mother Jean Stutzman, says, “Matt simply developed in this manner without medical explanation.”
His birth parents put him up for adoption when he was 4 months old. When Stutzman was 13 months old, he was adopted by Leon and Jean Stutzman of Kalona, Iowa. They traveled to Shriner’s hospital in St. Louis to have their new son fitted for his first prosthetic arms. Jeans said, “He learned to work his new arms in two days when the doctor said it would take a week.” By the time he was 18 months old, Stutzman learned to walk and feed himself.
The Stutzman family allowed Matt to try almost anything if he could accomplish it on his own. As a farm family, he liked climbing trees, climb into the haymow and climb up into tractors. He liked sports, fishing, soccer, basketball, football and volleyball.
“Matt learned to handle life without special accommodations. This would enable him later in life to go and do anything he put his mind to.”
Matt later learned to ride a bike, an accomplishment for any young kid. He did this by leaning his chest on the handlebars.
He later developed an interest in music and learned to play the guitar. He performed at school competitions and won many times.
Growing up with a love for the outdoors, Matt gravitated toward target practice, shooting with a gun and bow hunting. He attended a hunter safety course to get the basics down. “He started practicing and taught himself the bow accurately,” Jean said.
When Stutzman was of driving age, he wanted to get his driver’s license. His mom explained the public school system “refused to cooperate so Matt had to take a couple of driving tests for an evaluator. After two years of fighting the system, Matt finally got his license.”
When driving she explained he uses his left foot to operate the brake and gas pedals, and uses his right foot on the steering wheel, to shift, turn on the blinkers and adjust the lights.
The 2012 Paralympics was Stutzman’s first time competing in archery at such a high level. According to an article on NPR.org, “in the men’s compound open final, he was narrowly beaten by Finland’s Jere Forsberg, who has the use of both arms.”
He was quoted as saying, “… you’re not out there shooting for yourself. You’re shooting for your country, all your friends and family.”
Stutzman is also listed as a Guinness World Record-holder for the longest accurate shot, a mark of 230 yards, which he set in 2011.
His other career highlights include: fourth place in the 2011 Parapan American Games (missed the world record by two points) and he holds two national records in archery.
The Telegraph in London quoted Stutzman as saying, “I kinda hope to make everyone realize you can do whatever you want in this life if you just try.”
Stutzman and his wife Amber have three sons: Carter, Cameron and Alex.
Tickets are now available to see Matt Stutzman on Tuesday, March 11, at 6 p.m. at Camp Courageous. Tickets are $5, free for Ignite members. They are available locally at State Farm Insurance, JRMC, Ohnward Bank & Trust, ITS, Camp Courageous, Fidelity Bank & Trust, Bennett Machine & Fabricating, Grant Wood Area Abstract, F&M Bank, Maquoketa Valley Electric, and Russell & Russell Insurance.