VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Inside the USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia's Outdoor Adventure Team gym at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, you'll find a team dedicated to helping service members of all abilities find strength and healthy living.
It's also where you'll often find Navy IT1 Ruth Freeman, lifting, throwing, and jumping her way past the obstacles life has presented.
That includes metastatic thyroid cancer and the following surgery that accidentally cut her spinal accessory nerve, leaving her with shoulder injuries and her traps paralyzed.
Through the Outdoor Adventure Team, Freeman says she's found inspiration to overcome challenges and she tries to impart that to others as well.
"It just gave me that chance to show myself that I could still do something, but also show other people that have similar injuries or illnesses that they could still do it," Freeman shared.
It is because of that and the more than 130 volunteer hours Freeman has logged with the USO this year that she was received a News 3 People Taking Action award and $300 Visa gift card from our community partners at Southern Bank.
Vicky West with the USO says if you look around the gym, you'll see Ruth's impact on keeping things maintained, but it's what you can't see that matters the most.
"What she doesn't realize is how many people she's inspired. Ruth is a wounded ill and injured service member. She's also a Navy spouse. She's also a mom and all of those folks come through these doors and she has life experience to share with everybody," West shared with News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.
"She doesn't realize it but she's really inspired so many people that have come through these doors and she's helped a lot of people."
Freeman has competed in both the Invictus Games and represented Team Navy in the Warrior Games, which she's hoping to do again.
As she trains for that, with a smile on her face, Freeman has this advice for anyone else who may face the difficulties life can bring.
"We all have our bad days. Just let yourself be in that spot, cry just be down but don't stay there for longer than the day or don't just get stuck there," she said.
To nominate someone for a People Taking Action Award, click here.