USA Paralympic Sitting Volleyball Player
Kari Miller was born in1977 in Newark, NJ and grew up in Washington D.C. Her parents were Nathaniel Peterson and Mary Lanuze, both were very good athletes and competitors. Miller has one brother named Michael who is six years younger. She graduated from Cardozo High School while particiating in basketball and track. After graduating she enlisted in the military due to not having the resouces to provide for college. Miller worked as a transportation management cooridinator for the Army where she served for nine years and spent time in Korea, Bosina and Europe. Her dream was to go to officier canditate school so Miller took classes at Montgomery College to earn credits. In December of 1999 she reached the required number of credits, a celebration was in order.
During one early morning in December of 1999 Kari and some of her friends were driving to IHOP and were struck by a drunken driver going 80 mph. The driver of the car died instantly but Kari survived but lost both her legs with one being amputated above the knee and the other below. When she awoke in the hospital she could not speak but motioned for a pencil and wrote on a piece of paper "I know I don't have my legs. Don't be sad. I'll be OK."Little did she know that a new journey was about to begin.
With losing both her legs she did not sulk around she competed in wheelchair basketball before discovering sitting volleyball. She has trained with the U.S. Women's Sitting Team at the University of Central Oklahoma. She has acheived many things some include becoming an American Paralympic volleyballist while earning 10 medals (5 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze).
Values and Beliefs
After Kari's accident it was truly very hard for her to make the transition to using prosthetic legs, she fell multiple times. She admitted that she had plenty of bad days but looked to her mother for strength who told her "You need to go through all that you feel. If you need to be sad, be sad. If you need to be angry, be angry. If you need to cry, cry." Her confidence was building and she stated, “Being disabled only means that you have to find another way of doing all the things that you want to do.” And that she did. She got introduced to adaptive sports and began doing normal thing again. She began rock climbing, horseback riding, and going to the beach.
But along the way Kari has overcome diversity. When she was first introduced to wheelchair basketball she didn't make the cut because she was too short and could not block 6 foot 4 players. This failure did not stop her, one of her teammates asked her if she considered playing sitting volleyball. She gave it a try and did not make the cut either but the coach told her she was very athletic. So she decided to continue her training at the University of Central Oklahoma.
London Paralympic Games
With the Paralympic Games being in London IPC President Sir Philip Craven described London 2012 as "the greatest Paralympic Games ever." The games itself had a significant impact on British society. About eight out of ten (81%) British adults thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way people with an impairment are viewed by the public. 1 in 3 UK adults changed their attitude towards people with an impairment(Paralympic.org). The London games brought in unprecedented media coverage with the games being broadcasted over 100 countries and territories. Also on social media throughout the course of the Games there were 1.3 million tweets mentioning 'Paralympic', 25 million people visited London 2012.com and over 5.8 million people upgraded to the London 2012 Paralympic App (Paralympic.org).
The athletes were spectacular as well. The games featured 20 sports with 4,237 athletes in attendance (men: 2,736, women: 1,501). 251 athletes set World Records and 314 athletes set Paralympic Games Records. In total 75 of the 164 competing countries won at least one medal.
Kari's biggest competitor was herself. She had to battle through the ups and downs of losing her legs and not being able to do things the same way. She had many failures but what lead her to her success was her friends and family and adaptive sports.
When Kari Miller first started out for sitting volleyball she had to compete with many other athletes that wanted the same position on the USA Paralympic Team's roster. When she did not make the 2004 team Miller increased her training to compete against her competitors to make the 2006 team. The U.S. squad finished fifth in the world championships that year. When 2008 came around the U.S Paralympic team won a silver medal in Beijing competing against 16 countries. In 2011 Miller was named best libero beating out 16 other worthy competitors. Finally in 2012 after the USA team beat out 16 countries again to win a silver medal, Miller was named Best Receiver and Best Libero.