Our Team

Walter Escamilla
Lead Ambassador, Equipment & Handcycling Director
Bio

My name is Walter Sanchez and I was born in El Salvador. My country went thru a civil war that lasted from 1980-1992. This war caused the death of 75,000 people and many innocent people were separated from their families. I lived outside the city in a small town. My younger brother and I had a normal childhood and played soccer, but at night I would hear gunshots and helicopters flying. When I was seven, my mother would tell us to go under the mattress and the next morning on my way to school I would see bodies lying on the ground. My mom’s three brothers immigrated to America fleeing the war for a better life. I was 12 years old when my uncles told my mother that they would take care o...

My name is Walter Sanchez and I was born in El Salvador. My country went thru a civil war that lasted from 1980-1992. This war caused the death of 75,000 people and many innocent people were separated from their families. I lived outside the city in a small town. My younger brother and I had a normal childhood and played soccer, but at night I would hear gunshots and helicopters flying. When I was seven, my mother would tell us to go under the mattress and the next morning on my way to school I would see bodies lying on the ground. My mom’s three brothers immigrated to America fleeing the war for a better life. I was 12 years old when my uncles told my mother that they would take care of me in America because in El Salvador the military would recruit boys as young as 13 years old to go to war. I did not want that life so I immigrated to America.

It was 1988 when I arrived in Los Angeles and I was very happy to start a new life and learn a new language. As a teenager I went through a lot; I went to Cleveland High School in Reseda, CA but I was getting in trouble and hanging out with the wrong crowd so my uncle decided to send me back to my mother in El Salvador. I really thank my uncles for sending me back, it was a tough lesson but it made me a better person. When I was 15 years old I went back to school and got my first job as a waiter. Tips were good because I had learned English and I was able to serve tourists. When I was 18 years old and in my last year of high school, my mother lost her job. I remember how worried she was and how she would cry because she had worked so hard for her house. At that time, I asked my uncle to help me to get back to America. I told my mom this time will be different- that I would work hard and would pay for her house. I came back to Los Angeles in 1993 and started working for American Sign Company as a laborer painting and shipping; and then two years later I was my own contractor installing signs for real estate companies. By the year 2000 I had paid for my mother’s house and helped my younger brother come and live here in Los Angeles. I had a dream to buy a house with my wife and in 2005 God blessed us with twin girls- everything was going perfectly.

On December 29th 2000, I had a car accident that changed my life forever. I suffered a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from my waist down. My level of injury is T11 -T12 complete Paraplegic. When I was in the hospital after my surgery, they told me I would be transferred to rehabilitation and I was happy because I thought that at rehabilitation, I was going to be able to walk again. I wanted to become independent. When you are in rehabilitation everything is accessible and you have a great team of physical therapist and doctors, however when you go home reality hits you. There I was in my new set of wheels…my wheelchair. I was so miserable that I wanted to die. I had my family support, but at night I used to dream that I was walking and did not want to wake up from the dream. Around that time, my wife asked me for a divorce. I don’t blame her as I was not myself, I was bitter and the Walter that she knew was gone.

It took me two years to accept my new life. I bought a car and got hand controls. I was selling cars for my friends and then I was buying and selling too, I had a handyman service and a cleaning service, and little by little I got myself out of the depression. My daughters have always been my reason to live, and I wanted them to see that their dad would always be there for them. My twins will never say we did not go anywhere because their dad is in a wheelchair; on the other hand they say my dad is in a wheelchair and we go everywhere!

In 2012 I met the most beautiful girl who did not care that I was in a wheelchair; she saw Walter and not my wheelchair. I asked her to go to the movies with me and she said yes! We started dating and we would go everywhere. I took her and my twins to Universal Studios, Sea World, Disneyland; my life was normal again.

In August 2015 I went to my first handcycling event. Social media was a big factor as I would see pictures of guys and girls doing adaptive sports and since I used to ride bikes for fun I went to try handcycling with Triumph Foundation. I remember this like it was yesterday. Andrew asked Steve to get me in an upright bike, oh man, I felt like a kid! I was taking pictures, and from that moment on a whole new world was opened up for me. Andrew told me what Triumph Foundation is all about, helping individuals like me to triumph over disability and from that day on I was involved with all their events- support groups, networking with others like me, and meeting so many new friends.

Thanks to Triumph Foundation I tried almost all the adaptive sports: water skiing, snow skiing, Over the Line baseball (one of my favorites), wheelchair rugby etc. But what I love the most is to meet newly injured people because it reminds me how lost I was in depression, not wanting to go out and live life.

In 2016 I asked my girlfriend to marry me and she said yes! We got married in November 2016 and my life is good because she is in it. I started to work part-time with Triumph Foundation as an ambassador, and that lead to other opportunities such as helping with adaptive sports. For the last two years I have led Over the Line at the Wheelchair Sports Festival that takes place in the spring. I run my own support group in the Antelope Valley as well as helping other groups. I run the wheelchair loaner program and I maintain our handcycles and rugby wheelchairs. I love sharing the sport of handcycling with others and now work with Triumph’s handcycle program. I go out in the community to get sponsors for our events. I love helping others to triumph over their disability. I like to say I’m not disabled I JUST DO THINGS DIFFERENT! Andrew says, “We are the club nobody wants to join but once you are in you are family!!” and I’m proud to be part of this family.

 

Steve McLaughlin
Volunteer Handcycling Lead
Traci McLaughlin
Volunteer Handcycling Lead
Katelyn Bergman
Lead Ambassador
Bio

At the age of three I became a C6-7 quadriplegic from a car accident. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to ride bikes, play tennis, and go swimming like my friends were doing, so I began to participate in a few adaptive sports programs but eventually I found it hard to find adaptive programs that gave me the same opportunities as the other kids. Over the years I fell out of the Spinal Cord Injury community until 2016 when I was searching for a drivers training grant and was told about Triumph Foundation through Janette Knudson who is an ambassador for Triumph. She had me apply for a grant and the rest was history. Not only did I gain a grant and the opportunity to drive but I gained ...

At the age of three I became a C6-7 quadriplegic from a car accident. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to ride bikes, play tennis, and go swimming like my friends were doing, so I began to participate in a few adaptive sports programs but eventually I found it hard to find adaptive programs that gave me the same opportunities as the other kids. Over the years I fell out of the Spinal Cord Injury community until 2016 when I was searching for a drivers training grant and was told about Triumph Foundation through Janette Knudson who is an ambassador for Triumph. She had me apply for a grant and the rest was history. Not only did I gain a grant and the opportunity to drive but I gained a community and a family and in doing so I learned so much about the SCI community and myself but also about Triumph and the opportunities they provide for people like myself; showing others that life after injury if possible. Now on a regular basis I get to participate in programs such as handcycling, baseball, skiing, rugby, and so much more. And now I have become an ambassador for Triumph because I fell in love with helping others, visiting newly injured patients in hospitals and rehabs as a mentor and participating and volunteering in our adaptive recreational sports activities and weekly support groups. I am proud and honored to call the Triumph family my family.

Randi Wyatt-Billings
Events & Volunteer Coordinator

I have always been interested in human services and had a passion for being with people, even at a very young age. When the opportunity to work for Triumph Foundation came up, I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in something I knew nothing about, except it was working with people. I am enjoying the increasing ability to learn new things, working along side people who have become family, and constantly being inspired by those around me. I am a mom to two small, spirited boys and three fur babies.Because of my work with Triumph Foundation, I am one of those lucky people who get to "love their job."

I have always been interested in human services and had a passion for being with people, even at a very young age. When the opportunity to work for Triumph Foundation came up, I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in something I knew nothing about, except it was working with people. I am enjoying the increasing ability to learn new things, working along side people who have become family, and constantly being inspired by those around me. I am a mom to two small, spirited boys and three fur babies.Because of my work with Triumph Foundation, I am one of those lucky people who get to "love their job."

Terina Sprague
Social Media Manager, Ambassador
Bio

I was injured in a motorcycle accident at the age of 8 years old with my father, resulting in a complete T4 spinal cord injury. From a young age I always remained active in a variety of adaptive sports; snow skiing, water skiing, and handcycling. I was introduced to Triumph Foundation in 2013 at the Abilities Expo, right around the same time I had recently stopped working full time for a family owned Construction Company. I knew I needed to continue to stay productive and decided to get more involved with the SCI community. I gradually became more involved with Triumph; attending their Inland Empire SCI Life Series group, handcycling clinics, and annual sports festivals. In the middle of ...

I was injured in a motorcycle accident at the age of 8 years old with my father, resulting in a complete T4 spinal cord injury. From a young age I always remained active in a variety of adaptive sports; snow skiing, water skiing, and handcycling. I was introduced to Triumph Foundation in 2013 at the Abilities Expo, right around the same time I had recently stopped working full time for a family owned Construction Company. I knew I needed to continue to stay productive and decided to get more involved with the SCI community. I gradually became more involved with Triumph; attending their Inland Empire SCI Life Series group, handcycling clinics, and annual sports festivals. In the middle of 2017 I started helping more with the behind the scenes operations of Triumph; answering inquiry emails, managing Triumphs’ social media, website, blog and any other tasks that were needed. I’m grateful to be part of such an amazing team, #TriumphFamily.

Michele Altamirano
Ambassador

Michele is a C6-C7 quadriplegic for almost 30 years. Michele met Andrew shortly after the foundation of Triumph. Michele wears many hats as an ambassador for Triumph. She leads the Oxnard SCI support group, the Triumph women's group, and also helps with the Santa Barabara SCI support group. In addition to these many duties, Michele also visits newly injured patients and attends Triumph events and fundraisers. When asked about how she would describe Triumph, Michele said: "Seeing the excited faces of the newcomers to the many Triumph events is such a joy, especially the children."  "I enjoy the camaraderie that exists among the Triumph family, I know we can all count on each other."

Michele is a C6-C7 quadriplegic for almost 30 years. Michele met Andrew shortly after the foundation of Triumph. Michele wears many hats as an ambassador for Triumph. She leads the Oxnard SCI support group, the Triumph women's group, and also helps with the Santa Barabara SCI support group. In addition to these many duties, Michele also visits newly injured patients and attends Triumph events and fundraisers. When asked about how she would describe Triumph, Michele said: "Seeing the excited faces of the newcomers to the many Triumph events is such a joy, especially the children."  "I enjoy the camaraderie that exists among the Triumph family, I know we can all count on each other."

Eric St. Amant
Ambassador
Bio

Eric has been a  C1-C2 quadriplegic for 28 years. Eric met Andrew at an Orange County SCI support group and has been involved nonstop ever since. As a Triumph Ambassador, Eric Attends numerous SCI support groups, visits newly injured patients, attends and helps with the many fundraisers' Triumph hold each year. When called upon, Eric said: "I show up. I'm stubbornly independent and a follower of Christ." One of Eric's favorite memories with Triumph is watching his mother at the age of 79, finish the Superhero 5K. He also enjoyed being the MC at the annual Wheelchair Sports Festival.

In addition to the work Eric does with Triumph, he also speaks to physical therapy students at Chap...

Eric has been a  C1-C2 quadriplegic for 28 years. Eric met Andrew at an Orange County SCI support group and has been involved nonstop ever since. As a Triumph Ambassador, Eric Attends numerous SCI support groups, visits newly injured patients, attends and helps with the many fundraisers' Triumph hold each year. When called upon, Eric said: "I show up. I'm stubbornly independent and a follower of Christ." One of Eric's favorite memories with Triumph is watching his mother at the age of 79, finish the Superhero 5K. He also enjoyed being the MC at the annual Wheelchair Sports Festival.

In addition to the work Eric does with Triumph, he also speaks to physical therapy students at Chapman about what it's like to live with an SCI and how they can better understand and treat someone living with an SCI. This information is invaluable to these students. Eric also encourages the students to volunteer with Triumph and get to know the community that they will be serving after graduation.

Luis Nok Outumuro
Ambassador
Shawn Fluke
Ambassador
Mark Richards
Ambassador
Cindy Navarro
Ambassador
Danny Gomez
Ambassador
Bio

I was injured May 20 2016 in a mountain biking accident that left me as a T-11 T-12 paraplegic. I fell into a severe depression shortly after I left rehab. I didn't want to leave the house and felt alone and scared. One day, as I scrolled through Facebook, I saw there was an organization doing a wheelchair sports festival. I decided then to get out of my comfort zone and attend this festival. That's when I met Triumph Foundation and everything changed for me. I was introduced to a wonderful community of loving people who shared my same issues and thoughts. I was received with open arms and couldn't be happier to now be an Ambassador giving back to people who were in my position. I current...

I was injured May 20 2016 in a mountain biking accident that left me as a T-11 T-12 paraplegic. I fell into a severe depression shortly after I left rehab. I didn't want to leave the house and felt alone and scared. One day, as I scrolled through Facebook, I saw there was an organization doing a wheelchair sports festival. I decided then to get out of my comfort zone and attend this festival. That's when I met Triumph Foundation and everything changed for me. I was introduced to a wonderful community of loving people who shared my same issues and thoughts. I was received with open arms and couldn't be happier to now be an Ambassador giving back to people who were in my position. I currently coach handcyclyng clinics and attend support groups. Outside of Triumph, I took charge of my life and am pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. I owe everything to Triumph and will continue to use what I have learned to help others Triumph over paralysis.

Hobal Grajeda
Ambassador
Robert Soto
Ambassador
Darryl Parker
Ambassador
Ryan Chavarria
Ambassador
Tom Conaway
Ambassador
Roberto Arellano
Ambassador
Tannia Delapaz & Brady
Ambassador
Damon Whittaker
Ambassador
Andy Zirzow
Ambassador
Ryan Butcher
Ambassador
Cynthia Gstettenbauer
Ambassador
Davy Lin
Ambassador
E'van Petros
Ambassador
Matt Vico
Ambassador
Larry Dunn
Ambassador
Michael Harris
Ambassador
Cecilia Villarruel
Ambassador
Nick Tomaszewski
Ambassador
Jessica Brito
Ambassador
Andrew Greenbaum
Ambassador
David Washington
Ambassador