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April Holmes has always had a need for speed

U.S. Paralympic gold medalist and former Norfolk State student-athlete lost her leg, not her spirit, in a horrific accident

In 2001, after leaving her office in Philadelphia, April Holmes headed to a train station during rush hour. Accompanied by her boyfriend, they were the last ones to board the train bound for New York City.

She never made it.

As she was boarding, the train started to pull forward, but the doors never shut. Holmes slipped, tumbling below the platform. The train rolled onto her left leg. For 17 minutes, Holmes lay trapped beneath the train, singing gospel songs to keep her heart beating and her body from giving up.

The former Norfolk State University track and field student-athlete lost that leg below the knee. She would spend nine months in the hospital recovering and rehabilitating. Despite seemingly insurmountable hurdles, she learned to walk again. Then she learned to run again. She went on to flourish as a Paralympian, motivational speaker and writer.

Holmes had to forge her own trail through her recovery, but she has dedicated her life to give hope and inspiration to others in similar life-altering situations. And in January, she received the NCAA’s 2015 Inspiration Award.

“I used to pray for the opportunity to have a career that allowed me to travel and meet new people,” Holmes said. “I didn’t specify that I needed all 10 of my toes to do it.”

With three Paralympic Games under her belt and three medals to show for it, the 42-year-old is training for her fourth Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro after winning the U.S. Paralympic National Championships in the 100 and 200 meters in June.


April Holmes
Paralympic athlete, motivational speaker, foundation founder/director

Hometown: Somerdale, New Jersey

Current City:  Kissimmee, Florida

School: Bachelor’s degree in communication and media studies, Norfolk State University, 1996; master’s degree in business administration, University of Phoenix

Sport: Track and field

Fun Fact: Keeping with her need for speed, she’s always wanted to be a race-car driver.

After the Game

We are proud of all our former student-athletes, and in recognition of their accomplishments after their playing days, we launched NCAA After the Game.  Our goal is simple: to celebrate the former student-athlete.

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