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Nothing But Words Of Appreciation From Joe Delagrave To His Wife, April

By Joe Delagrave | July 20, 2021, 11 a.m. (ET)

Joe Delagrave competing in the bronze-medal match against Japan at the Paralympic Games London 2012 on Sept. 9, 2012 in London.

 

April, thank you. Two words we say so often in our society that they seem to lose value. When I say thank you to my wife, it doesn’t seem to even begin to be enough. People often see the athletes every four years in their respective sports, but they don’t get access to see the sacrifices, commitment and discipline that athletes' partners make during the quad. My gratitude for who she is grows exponentially with each passing year that I’m lucky enough to be married to her.

We’ve been married for 14 years, and have been together in this wheelchair rugby journey the entire career. Every accolade that I’ve received is her’s. Every failure or obstacle I’ve come up against, she has been there to help me conquer it or find the opportunity within it. Simply put … she has been there. 

April, thank you. You have always been there with me through it all. This rugby career has been just as much her dream and goal as it has been mine. When I say she’s been there, she’s been there. All. Of. It. Everything. Each high felt so good. Each low that seemed to crush my spirit and left me questioning whether or not it was worth it to keep pursuing the dream, you were there. 

April, thank you. I remember when I first started playing wheelchair rugby. The first practice you were there to help me in the rugby chair. Man, I had no idea how to transfer haha! You were there when I went to the tournament in Milwaukee. I remember when I told you about the dream of being a Paralympian. You easily could have laughed because of the shape I was in, or how far away that goal seemed. Instead you asked me how, when, where…all the questions pointing to how it’s going to get done. You were there. 

April, thank you. I remember when I asked you about moving to Arizona to play with Paralympic legends Scott Hogsett and Nick Springer, instead of looking at me like I was crazy to suggest a move across the country for a sport, you were ready for an adventure and saw it as part of our push to make our goal a reality. From Minnesota to Arizona, you were on board to make it happen! You were there.

April, thank you. When I was cut multiple times from the National Team early on in my career, you remained steadfast that I wasn’t done. You’ve always helped me look in the mirror and take responsibility for the things I can control. You pushed me to continue my training, nutrition and discipline to the game. When I would talk negatively and was on the verge of being done, you’d speak life back into what we were setting out to do. You were there. 

April, thank you. I remember when I was selected to the team for the Olympic Games London 2012, and I could barely speak through the happy tears but was so excited to tell you we had reached the top! At the first game, I looked for you right away during warmups and saw your smiling face, and our little six-month old baby boy. It was a beautiful moment that I’ll never forget. You were there. 

April, thank you. In 2014, you had a miscarriage right before you flew over to Denmark. A day later, our games started at the world championships, and we ended up losing in the semifinal. The tournament didn’t go the way we had wanted, but afterwards we were able to grieve together and work through the pain that unfortunately many couples experience. You were there. 

April, thank you. When I was cut from the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team and felt like the biggest failure, my identity had been crushed, and I didn't see a way forward, you pulled me back. You always have a way of helping me remember who I am and where my value and worth come from. You helped me realize that I didn’t need a gold medal to validate my role as a husband and father. You helped me remember that scoreboards don’t define significance. That moment was one of the hardest valleys to go through. Getting back up from that didn’t happen by accident. You were there. 

April, thank you. Each win, each loss, on top of the podium or in a valley I didn’t see coming, you make chasing dreams and goals fun, adventurous, interesting and worth it. Like you always say … all you need is some giggles and God. You’ve made this journey we’ve been on incredible. You’ve always made me giggle. You’ve always made sure God is front and center. As we get closer to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and I reflect on this career, I’ll hope I never forget to say those three simple words: “April, thank you”.

I know I’ll never forget … you were there. 

Joe Delagrave

 

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Joe Delagrave

Wheelchair Rugby