Paralympic gold medalist Kari Miller-Ortiz leading by example

ByBob Slovak Localish logo
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Paralympic Gold medalist giving back to help other veterans succeed
Former U.S. Army Sergeant who lost both of her legs in a drunk driving crash is turning tragedy into triumph.

HOUSTON, Texas -- Former U.S. Army Sergeant Kari Miller-Ortiz is an inspiration to many but she doesn't see it that way. For Kari it's all about using her energy and enthusiasm for life to help others reach their goals.

Kari lost both her legs when a car she was riding in was hit by a drunk driver while she was on leave from military duty in 1999.

Trapped in the car and losing consciousness, she told her rescuer, "if you need to cut off my legs, I'll forgive you - just get me out."

Always into sports, Kari turned to them during rehab. A friend of her Mom suggested Kari try wheelchair basketball, an eye opener that motivated Kari. Sitting volleyball would come next where Miller-Ortiz would thrive.

Kari was a member of three U.S. Paralympic Teams, winning Silver in Beijing, Silver in London and Gold in Rio.

Her Paralympic glory was hard earned but for Kari giving back and helping others is what its all about. She helped set up the program for newly injured service members at Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir facilities. Kari has coached both the Army and Air Force sitting Volleyball teams and continues to coach the sport on the local levels.

For Kari it's not what you can't do, but what you can do. "What makes me the most proud is being able to give back and help fellow veterans. We don't know where life is going to lead, but the legacy of empowering other people to get up, to succeed and to grow is what makes me happy. This is something I'm giving you that you will never lose. It's something you can pass on to others."