She competes in track and field and indoor rowing, but Karah Behrend, the retired Air Force senior aviator, was unable to focus on training for the Warrior Games in the United States. 2018 Department of Defense at the US Air Force Academy.
For the first time, Behrend was going to meet his 19-year-old biological sister, Crystal Boyd, who lives in Puyallup, Washington.
After training, Behrend waited impatiently until she was whisked to the hotel for the reunion, which she said was surreal.
âI’ve been imagining this moment for a long time and for it to finally happen, I couldn’t be happier,â Behrend said. “We keep in touch via social media, but we are trying to make plans for me to meet our father and for them to meet my family.”
âI was extremely excited, but I knew it would happen someday. I just didn’t know when, âBoyd said. âSince I’ve known her, she’s been through so much and watching her go through it all before my eyes, in person here at the DoD Warrior Games, is an honor. She always had the strength and now she goes out and does what we all knew she could do. I couldn’t be more proud of her.
(DoD photo by EJ Hersom)
Boyd said she was also looking forward to meeting Behrend’s family. âWe have already spoken about my visit to her and her family in Texas,â she said. âI am delighted to meet my nieces.
Call for service
Claiming Gilford, Connecticut and Bradenton, Fla. Like her hometowns, Behrend, 24, said she grew up moving as a child. She was adopted at the age of four by an army ranger.
âMy brother and I were adopted because when my biological father came back from Desert Shield / Desert Storm, he wasn’t really the same person. So my mom got over it quickly enough to get us out of the situation, âshe said. âAs my mother told me about him, I was like, ‘I need to meet him. It’s half of me. I don’t know who he is. We kind of got in touch with him. I think of his sister at random. I spoke to her for two hours that night and found out that I had a sister.
âOur dad told me about her and our brother growing up, so I always knew about her. I just didn’t know her. She did get in touch with me. I never knew how to find her, so I just waited, âBoyd said.
Behrend said she had tried to meet her sister several times over the years, but it had been difficult since she had been in the Air Force for six years.
Behrend said she joined the Air Force as a communications signals analyst due to her family’s military heritage. âIt’s something I’ve always wanted to do,â she says. âMy grandfather served during the Vietnam era. My biological father was in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. My adoptive father was a Ranger in Panama for the Panama Crisis. It’s just something our family does.
When Behrend reconnected with her biological father, she said they had that military connection. âIt was an immediate connection, talking about everything,â she said. âI can call him and say, ‘This is happening; what do I do?’ He tries; we have worked to rebuild that relationship. He said he would always be grateful if someone was able to come in and come into our lives to make sure we’re okay.
In 2015, Behrend had a surgical complication that resulted in reflex sympathetic dystrophy. She said the neurological disorder has an impact on her involuntary functions such as controlling temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, pain, inflammation, swelling and other functions that a person cannot. not actively controlling. When she runs she says she feels like her leg is going to come out from under her.
(DoD photo by EJ Hersom)
âIt causes a lot of pain, instability and weakness in my right leg,â she said. “I also had a spinal injury from a car accident, so it affects my left as well.”
Her sister has epilepsy. Behrend said his disability is rare, but since both of their disabilities are neurological, it’s one more bond they can share and talk about.
Behrend has two small children and her sister to keep her motivated. âI don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that if something happens you just quit your whole life,â she said. âThat’s not what life is about. The life he experiences. I don’t even see them as positive or negative anymore. Experience it. It pushes me somehow but I’m growing.
She also encourages others to surpass themselves. âIt doesn’t matter how sooner or later something happens or how big it is. As long as you do it with all your heart and put everything you have into it, no matter what, it will work, âshe said with passion.
âJust because you have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it,â Boyd said. âYou can’t allow it to stop you from doing the things you want to do and the things you want to do. Even with obstacles, you can overcome whatever it is you really think about. Neither Karah nor I let our troubles define us. It’s a part of us, but it’s not us.
DoD Warrior Games
So far at these Warrior Games, Behrend has won gold medals in her handicap category in the women’s discus and shot put competitions. She broke a shot put record in her class.
Boyd said she was inspired not only by her sister, but also by the athletes in her first matches.
âWatching everyone here inspires me,â she said. “These athletes have decided to serve our nation, and even after being injured in one way or another, they continue to serve by inspiring everyone around them.”
Boyd added, âEven if you have a disability, it doesn’t define you. With a good support system, anything is possible. As long as you think about it, put in the effort, and trust those around you, things will start to move. Remember, things take time. Don’t stress if things don’t go as quickly as you want them to.
This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.