Even if he could, Cameron Clapp would not go back in time and prevent the accident that took both of his legs and his right arm almost 14 years ago.
Partying with friends, a then 15-year-old Clapp passed out on a railroad track in front of his California home.
“It was three days after 9-11,” Clapp said. “We had made a memorial of candles, a flag and shining a spotlight for the victims of the terrorist attacks. I was drinking a lot. I just happened to be on the railroad track and passed out.
“I didn’t see or hear the train coming. The train ran over me. It’s a miracle I’m alive. To this day, I have so much gratitude for my life. Every day there is so much opportunity to overcome and be resilient in the face of adversity.
“I would not change what has happened to me because it has given me the life I live today, and I live life to the fullest.”
Part of living his life to the fullest includes athletics. Clapp was fast as a kid.
“I was like the fastest kid in school, me and my twin brother,” Clapp said. “I had no clue what would be possible after I lost my legs and my arm.”
He credits Hanger Orthopedic and Prosthetics in Oklahoma City for helping him reach those possibilities. Less than a year after his accident, Clapp participated in his first Endeavor Games in Edmond with his new legs from Hanger.
On Friday and Saturday, the 28-year-old Santa Maria, Calif., resident will be competing in his 13th Endeavor Games.
He will be swimming Friday evening at YMCA pool at Mitch Park and racing Saturday on the Edmond North High School track. He has become one of the most popular athletes at the games and a mentor to new amputees.
“The Endeavor Games mean a lot to me because it was the very first event where I got to meet a lot of athletes who became my mentors, people who I really looked up to that motivated me,” he said.
Now, Clapp feels an obligation to return the favor and inspire others in similar circumstances. Clapp said the Endeavor Games always has more athletes with bi-lateral above knee amputees than any other event.
In 2007, Clapp was named the Endeavor Games Senior Athlete of the Year. In 2005, he received a Shining Star, an award that recognizes the potential of people with physical disabilities. Other recipients have included Christopher Reeve and Ray Charles.
Clapp also is an actor. He has appeared in TV shows such as HBO’s “Carnivale” and the comedy series, “My Name is Earl.”
“I have the opportunity to give back,” he said. “The No. 1 reward I get from being here is seeing new athletes. I was once a beginner. I know what it is like. I can show them that you can live life. That you can be an amputee and nothing is going to stop you from doing any activity that you desire.”