Abby Dunkin (’19 BS, Kinesiology) was always an active kid, participating in everything from basketball to martial arts. The sports served a therapeutic function, helping her with a chronic nerve condition. Dunkin played through discomfort until her senior year of high school, when a few treatment sessions didn’t go as planned. She ended up in a wheelchair, and a few months later, received a new diagnosis—neurocardiogenic syncope dysautonomia with small fiber neuropathy.
“I didn’t think that people with disabilities could be athletes or live an independent life,” she says.
In the intervening years, Dunkin has not only lived independently, but also thrived as an athlete. A two-time wheelchair basketball national champion and All-American, she even won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“One of the big things people want in life is just to be loved and accepted, and I felt that here at UTA,” she says. “Whether you’ve got a disability or not, everyone is so welcoming and supportive.”
Dunkin graduated earlier this year, but her playing career is far from over. Her sights are set on another gold medal—at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.