By Alana Nichols, 3-time Paralympic Gold Medalist and dual athlete in Alpine Skiing

People with disabilities face unique challenges, but we also rise above them in our own unique ways. I’ve accomplished  much in my life as a 3-time Paralympic Gold Medalist and dual athlete in Alpine Skiing.

But it’s not my accomplishments I’m most proud of. It’s how I earned them.

A devastating spinal injury during a snowboarding trip redirected my life 16 years ago. Life as I had known it changed. A new reality was before me.

As a lifelong athlete, it stripped a large part of my identity away. The unknown had always motivated me; now the unknown had left me to ponder my future.

The recovery process was difficult. But through the love and support of my friends, family and rehabilitation team, I have been able to achieve more than I ever thought possible.    I may be a woman of intense determination and grit, but it’s important to appreciate the process that helped me find my inner strength.

For 2 years after my spinal cord injury, I compared myself to everyone. But the person I compared myself to the most? My pre-injured “old self.” I thought that the girl who could compete against top athletes and was always ready for a new adventure was somehow different from the girl I had become.

But guess what? That girl who craved new adventures never left.

She is still here!

I finally stopped comparing myself to the ghost of my past and embraced my future. I discovered all the amazing feats I could achieve, once I stopped agonizing over the things I could not change.

One major change was my thoughts.  I realized whenever I thought I couldn’t do something, I was sure to fail. So I shifted my thinking from “can’t,” to “can.”

Everything changed from there. 

I went on to become a 3X Gold Medalist, Dual Sport Athlete in Wheelchair Basketball and Alpine Skiing. And I was the first female American to win gold in both the Summer and Winter Games.

A simple –but not necessarily easy – mind shift was the difference. 

The best part is using technology to share my cool adventures with the world. With nothing more than my wireless phone and a trusty internet connection, I can record and post online. My mobile device has been a game-changer for sharing my story.

Now, I’m not just surviving. I’m thriving! 

And that’s what the AT&T Beyond Limits campaign is about—going from “can’t” to “can.”  

To learn more about my story, visit or follow me on Twitter @AlanaNichols21.

To learn about AT&T Beyond Limits, visit

Be sure to visit the events page for information on my in-person appearance for the campaign. Follow the campaign and share your own Beyond Limits story on social media using #BeyondLimits and tagging @ATT.