Kevan Hueftle smiles as he leads his kids on horseback (left) and poses with his family in front of their home in Nebraska (right).
Kevan Hueftle does not spare his words, nor seek any sympathy.
He had a life-altering choice to make in August 2015, and he prayed he would be strong enough to follow through. He could keep drinking all day and night and maintain his life as a functioning alcoholic. Or Hueftle would stop drinking, cold turkey, on his own and try to reclaim his life for himself, his family and his friends.
He delivered the verdict on Aug. 7, 2015: he stopped drinking and has been sober since.
And the world that has opened since is remarkable.
Hueftle rediscovered his love of running in 2017, something he did successfully in high school at middle distance. Upon returning to the sport he set out to become one of the best Paralympic sprinters in the U.S., and in three short years he has become a bona fide contender to compete in the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2021.
“I am not going to lie and tell you this has been easy, because it is not. But I knew if I kept drinking, I would lose it all,” said Hueftle, 35. “I was in so much pain, physically, mentally, emotionally. I was fighting depression, anxiety, anger, and just drinking all the time so I could forget. Aug. 7, 2015 is when my life came back.”
Hueftle’s true breakthrough came last year.
In late August 2019, he won the 100 and took silver in the 200 at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru — his first international medals. Three months later, he won a silver medal in the 100 and placed fourth in the 200 at the 2019 World Para Athletics championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“I know it doesn’t make sense that a 35-year-old guy can do this, but if there is something you tell me I can’t do, I will die proving you wrong,” Hueftle said. “I like being the underdog, people not expecting anything from me. But then I get it done.”