Chappie Hunter is an adaptive athlete. Literally, this term means an athlete with a physical disability, like a missing limb or a condition requiring a wheelchair. But even before the accident that took his leg, Hunter was an adaptive kind of guy.
He adapted his mind and body to be a police officer and SWAT sniper.
He adapted his discipline to become a police detective.
And, after the traffic accident, Hunter adapted himself to a new life as an even better man than he already was.
A serviceman since age 18, Hunter worked as a volunteer paramedic in Tijuana. Noticing the cops on the scene of most of his calls, he grew attracted to law enforcement. At age 21, he’d graduated from the police academy and then served 14 years in patrol, eight in SWAT, and two as an elite sniper. Hunter’s later career saw him primarily working in anti-human and anti-sex trafficking.
Then, on Father’s Day in 2013, an accident changed his life. Struck by a car while riding his motorcycle, Hunter lost his leg. Such an event might sap a man’s strength or will to persevere. But for Hunter, it was like a new awakening. He wanted to come back stronger and better. Just days after the accident, Hunter told the San Diego Union Tribune “I just want to get better and make my family happy. And I want to get back to work.”
In an article titled “Inner Warrior,” Hunter wrote of hobbling into an office on crutches to get fitted for a prosthetic limb. In the waiting room, he found four military veterans. Amputees all, not yet in their thirties, and all casualties of war. Getting around to talking with the men, he explained the circumstances of his own injury.
That’s when one of the vets interrupted him:
“Dude, you have a paper cut.”
The blunt honesty was exactly what Hunter needed to cement his drive to not only return to a good life, but to excel at it.
Back to his family he went. And back to work he went. Hunter is currently assigned to San Diego Police Department’s Narcotics Division, and he remains notorious for his work on training officers in the field of domestic human trafficking.
Not only did Hunter return to work, he now runs a CrossFit gym out of his garage for adaptive athletes seeking to conquer their own goals of recovery and athleticism. And definitely not for profit—He charges visitors only a buck for membership. Hunter said he followed the example of CrossFit Rubicon owner David “Chef” Wallace, who recalled his own story of meeting an adaptive athlete: “When this first military vet came into my gym and asked if he could train, I said absolutely … in fact, you can train for free. He said he didn’t want to be placed on a pedestal and wanted to pay for his membership, so I decided to charge him a dollar. That’s how it’s been ever since.”
What do his colleagues think of his return? “Some people were talking smack behind my back as to why I wasn’t back to work sooner,” Hunter recalled. Based on how active he’s has been since the accident, and how capable he’s proven himself, you can forgive the officers for a little sarcasm.
After all, to work in law enforcement, you definitely need thick skin. And a sense of humor.