Florida native heads to Rio for Paralympics

Seth Jahn

LAKELAND, FL (WFLA) – Seth Jahn is an intimidating guy. He’s tall, tattooed, and athletic. The 6-foot-3 George Jenkins High School graduate loves adventure. You’d have no idea by looking at him, or even talking to him, that he fights a battle everyday. Jahn has what he calls the “invisible injury” or a traumatic brain injury.

“I live with no excuses,” Jahn said. “So many people have an excuse for why you shouldn’t do something. We have such a short time on this Earth and my greatest fear is I wish I would’ve, I could’ve, or should’ve.”

Jahn could’ve made excuses, people would understand and forgive him for it. In fact, after a military accident in Afghanistan, doctors told him he would never walk again. He remembers going to three different teams of doctors and visiting almost a dozen hospitals.

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“I’m a chill guy but after the third team I was like ‘get out of my room, you don’t know my situation and what I’m capable of doing,'” Jahn said. “I just needed to put the work in. It wasn’t that big of a deal. It sounds worse than it was.”

Jahn credits keeping his mind strong for his success. He eventually moved his right toe. He was a hemiplegic for awhile and now runs all over the soccer field as a center forward for the Men’s U.S. Paralympic National Soccer Team. He’s competing in the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro in September. He’s just one of the team members with an amazing, inspiring story.

“I’ve seen younger generations or even people who have gone through adversity and they hear stories of athletes on our team and they’re like, ‘yeah I can do this,'” Jahn said. “It’s given me a new sense of purpose.”

This isn’t the first time he’s played in the spotlight. He played in high school and college at St. Andres in North Carolina. He even played professionally in Ecuador.

“I wanted to be a professional athlete and once I made it to that level I realized I didn’t want to play a game to define my life,” Jahn said. “I wanted to make a difference in whatever way I could in other people’s lives. People were paying for us to entertain and then go do meaningful things with their lives and I’m kicking a ball.”

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Now he gets to do both – help people and play a sport. After deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq three times and becoming a law enforcement officer in SWAT he eventually worked as a special agent for the government. Now he’s in a full-time residency program in Atlanta training for the Paralympics. Workouts are three times a day, lasting about six hours. Because of his TBI he has issues with spatial recognition, balance, short-term memory, ataxia, an involuntary tremor and migraines. But he doesn’t regret being in the military.

“Everything worth having requires sacrifice,” Jahn says.

The Paralympics run Sep 7-18.

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