#SWISStrong 6/22/16: Justin Caine

Sponsored by Sparrow Hospital
Posted at 8:13 AM, Jun 23, 2016

When it comes to strong will and determination, this month's #SWISStrong feature takes the cake.

In two years, he's managed to do what many athletes spend their entire life training for and he's not letting anything getting in the way of him and his Olympic dreams. Not even a brain tumor.

Justine Caine is no stranger to athletic success. 

"I have a bullish sense of wanting to accomplish anything, no matter how impossible it is," said Caine. 

At 32-years-old, Justin holds the U.S. Paralympic record in shot put and discus. And is ranked first in the U.S. in both long jump and the 100 meter dash. 

"I knew I could accomplish some great things, but to know I was able to do these things in the first year of ever doing this, is something pretty incredible."

But Justin wouldn't be where he is today, had it not been for an untied shoe back in 1993.

"I bent down to tie my shoe, and there was this massive pain, like nothing I've ever felt before, or since, and it was just crushing on my head, and I shot up and I said, 'Dad! My head!"

It was Justin's first day of the fourth grade. He was just ten years old and having a massive brain hemorrhage - the result of a cancerous tumor on his cerebellum. 

"It was scary, but ... there wasn't any time to think about it, and get worried about it, it was OK, now we've got to fight back."

Justin underwent emergency surgery and given just a 40-percent chance of survival. He made it - but lost his ability to walk, talk and swallow in the process.

"It was like I was trapped in a body that didn't understand what I was trying to do, and I had to re-teach it."
It took years...

"It was extremely frustrating."

But Justin was eventually able to re-learn everything his tumor took away. He went on to graduate high school and college. He started his own company and a family. But couldn't help feeling like something was missing. 

"And that was athletics."

So, he decided to give track and field a try, learning everything he could by watching YouTube videos. After six months of virtual training - he signed up for the 2014 Michigan Victory Games.

"And I won 11 of my 15 events, and then I went out there the next year and won all 15 of my 15 events, and I thought maybe it's time to move to the next level."
...The Paralympics. 

Justin's eligible because he suffers from ataxia as a result of his brain tumor, which makes him unable to fully control his bodily movements - making balance and coordination a challenge. 

"And so I tried it out."  

"Competed in long jump, shot put and discus, and I won first in all the events, made nationals in all the events, and I actually set a US record in discus."

And he's not stopping there. Justin's hired a coach and trainer - he has his sights set on Rio and the U.S. Paralympic team. 

"He's just been full steam ahead. I don't see anything getting in his way," said Justin Grinnel, Owner of State of Fitness."

Putting in long hours inside of the gym and out. 

"Life is not about waiting for the rain to pass, it's about training in the rain," said Caine. 

Letting nothing get in the way of him and his Olympic dreams. 

"I think the sky's the limit, and it's a matter of time, before he brings home the gold," said Grinnell. 

"I would be over the moon excited," said Caine. 

"The whole reason I'm doing this is because I'm a childhood cancer survivor."

And hopefully soon a Paralympic gold medalist

Qualifications for the U.S.A. Paralympic team will be June 30th through July 2nd in North Carolina. 

Justin will find out if he makes the team two days later. 

For more information and to helps Justin get to the Paralympics, go to his GoFundMe Page.