Brett Parks, a retired U.S. Navy Aircrewman and national motivational speaker from Miami, currently living in Jacksonville, is participating in the 2016 Invictus Games, May 8-12, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.
Parks, who played football at Miami Palmetto High School, is a lower-leg amputee with other injuries sustained from a gunshot wound in 2012.
Parks, who will be competing in swimming and sitting volleyball during the games, was a two-time outstanding wide receiver at Palmetto and was awarded a football scholarship to Carson Newman College.
Since his injury he has won the national championship for sitting volleyball at the USA Volleyball Open Nationals in Phoenix, AZ, as a member of the USA Sitting Volleyball A2 team; gold and bronze medals in the 2014 DoDWarrior Games; competed in the 2014 Invictus Games; and took silver and bronze medals in the 2015 DoD Warrior Games.
While training to become an aviation flight engineer, Parks was wounded in 2012 in Jacksonville, when he came to the aid of a man being robbed at gunpoint. Parks, a husband and father with three children, was preparing to conduct a training session at his gym when he heard a man scream behind the fitness center and decided to intervene.
Two gunshots were fired at Parks — the first shot hit his abdomen, but the second shot missed him. While in a coma for 20 days, his lower right leg was amputated, and he spent four months recovering from his wounds and learning how to use a prosthetic limb.
In addition to his athletic ambitions, Parks has published a book about his experiences titled Miracle Man. He also has established an organization called Second Shot Ministry, which enables him to share his faith and journey toward recovery. He serves as a motivational speaker and travels the nation, visiting schools, churches and companies.
In addition to the Invictus Games, Parks is a five-time medalist in the Warrior Games, and he also competes with the USA Sitting Volleyball A2 team.
“Adaptive sports help me get out of bed in the morning,” Parks said. “Being severely injured like most of us are, it’s tough to find any positives to live for, but knowing we’re a part of a team helps us get up and work to better ourselves, one day at a time.”