Name: Chele’ Teabout
Hometown: Watervliet, NY
Number of Years Racing/Competing: 4 years
B.E.S.T. Coach: Coach Tom Giannettino
My name is Chele’ Teabout and I am a below knee amputee. No wait I don’t use that to define me any longer. I am a triathlete, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, nursing student who happens to be an amputee. In 1992 I began working as a Corrections Officer for the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. On June 17, 1997 I was injured at work I suffered a crush injury to the back of my left foot and ankle. To make a very long and painful story short over the next 17 years I endured 29 surgeries, over 40 spinal injections, nerve stimulator implants and a life time of sleepless nights.
When I thought I could no longer live with the pain I attempted to take my life. But God had other plans. When my doctor found out what happened he immediately called for the amputation of my left leg below the knee. He said “We fought hard and gave it our best, but it’s time to let it go.” So between my youngest daughters High School graduation and her leaving for College out of state that’s exactly what we did. July 25, 2014 began a chapter in my life that unbeknownst to me would take me further than anything I’ve ever done.
I was an 80’s kid we were always outside running, swimming, biking all summer from sunup to sundown. Always active in sports especially soccer and softball.
In 2015 I attended my first paratriathlete camps thru Challenged Athlete’s Foundation and Dare2Tri. They were the most life changing events of my life. During my injury I had gained 170lbs. I didn’t even recognize myself and I began to avoid mirrors. I didn’t know me inside or out.
These camps sparked something deep inside me. At first it didn’t burn but it smoldered and I grew excited about “things” once again. Slowly and surely I began to get more active. I did my first relay triathlon in the 2016 NYC triathlon. I did the swim all 355lbs of me. Since then I have lost 175lbs. I’ve competed in 11 triathlons, doing them as a relay doing the swim and cycling legs. Recently in March 2020 I received a running prosthesis.
I am now a nursing student. I want to be there for someone when they wake up with the realization that this nightmare has happened, and it’s too real to process. My medical team was great but I had a team of non-amputees telling me I would be OK and it’s OK. My thought was how do you? What experience do you have? I was crushed I couldn’t imagine how I would get along.
Since Covid has canceled our tri season I took the opportunity to become a Certified Life Guard. I don’t usually say I am proud of myself but I am, it’s a brutal course and the fact that I did it and scored in the top 10% of my class of healthy teens some of which I am 3 times their age, yes I am proud.
As an amputee we are forced to adapt. Nothing is taken for granted. Things as easy as walking across the grass is a highly calculated task for an amputee. We are always a step ahead of our feet gouging placement and looking for obstacles. I’ve taken that and made my life’s mantra so to speak.
I’ve overcome, I’ve adapted and I am winning!