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April Holmes: A Track Star’s Life-Changing Accident

In 2001, April Holmes was just a few years removed from a track and field career at Norfolk State University. She was still in sprinter form and everything in her life, you could say, was on track. She had a good job with a major communications company and had just purchased her first home. Then her life took a frightening turn.

During the evening rush-hour in Philadelphia, April was involved in a train accident. When she woke up later that night – after hours of emergency surgery – she learned her left leg had been amputated below the knee.  “Like most people my age, I never anticipated that something so unexpected would happen to me and have such a dramatic impact on my life,” she said.  “Just like that, my life changed. I spent weeks in the hospital and had to learn how to walk again. It was, to say the least, a difficult time for me.”

April was worried that she might lose her home and car.

The trauma left April not only thinking about how her life would change, but also if she could make ends meet financially. April was worried that she might lose her home and car. Fortunately, she had group disability insurance coverage through her employer. The coverage replaced a significant part of her income while she was out of work for nine months. It gave her considerable peace of mind and time to focus on her recovery, and new pursuits as a disabled athlete and an advocate for people with disabilities.

April represented the United States when she participated in the Paralympic Games in Beijing. Considered the world’s fastest female amputee, April won a gold medal on the 100 meter dash. She uses her celebrity as a star athlete to help others. Several years ago, April founded the April Holmes Foundation Inc. ( to help those with physical and learning disabilities. “I’ll be honest. I didn’t fully understand or appreciate the coverage provided by my employer until I needed it. Most working Americans would not be so fortunate if they were to suffer a disabling injury or illness and couldn’t work,” she said. “If you have a job, you need to make sure that you’d be able to pay your bills if you were suddenly unable to work for weeks, months, or even years.”

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