Q + A with Megan Blunk

So, Megan, for those who may not know, what led to your relationship with MPO?

So, going back, I had actually given up on working with a Orthotist. I was just really frustrated. I had tried a few others. This was about three years post-injury. Actually, it got to the point where I quit wearing my braces all-together for about a year. Mostly because I kept getting sores on my legs and I felt like they weren’t really listening to me. Anyways, I came home during a break in school, and my dad had met someone who recommended Justin and MPO. I was pretty hesitant because of my previous experiences, so I put it off for a while. But eventually I decided I was going to go in and give it a shot and it was 100% different from my previous experiences. So as it turns out, that decision to go in really helped me get back on track with getting the right leg braces that, you know, drastically changed my life. 

When you say 100% different, in what way did Maughan P&O separate themselves from others you had worked with?

Justin is just really genuine. He takes the time to hear what you have to say and you don’t feel rushed. He definitely tries to think outside the box and allows you to throw out ideas to consider as well. It’s not just a one-way track. It’s both of us working together, which is super important because obviously I know my body better than anyone else so that’s what I wanted was someone who understood that and respected it. And he did. And I mean that for everyone at the office. It’s just a great environment to be in. You don’t feel like you’re just going in and not getting anywhere. 

During your time working with MPO, how did your mobility develop, if at all?

Well, initially my feet for stuck down completely because when I was in the nursing home for a month they didn’t wrap my feet. So I had been on my tip-toes for three years before I saw Justin. I had been trying to stretch my ankles out but they weren’t stretching and I knew that I needed to have surgery to release the tendon, but I didn’t have time to have the surgery because I was in school and playing wheelchair basketball and kayaking competitively in the summer. So I had to put it off. But I knew if I had leg braces that supported my legs in the position that they were instead of forcing them to release, then I wouldn’t get the sores I was getting. So he made me leg braces the way I knew I needed them. Then, I was getting sores anymore. I could actually balance. He also made huge wedges for my shoes. They were pretty funky. And I know if I ever needed something like that again, I know they’d do a great job. We were experimenting and he went above and beyond. He ordered the shoes for me, put the wedges in them. All this stuff together, just made the experience 100% different. 

If you had to pick one thing what would be your favorite part about working with MPO?

That they accept me for who I am. I’m all over the place. I get really excited about things when I have ideas and sometimes those ideas don’t go anywhere. But (MPO was) with me at every step, and they support me if I do want to follow these ideas and they believe in me. So now I’m traveling a lot and my schedule can be pretty tough to work with, but Justin will work with me.

You are currently training for the para-olympics. How has that been going?

Good. The second cut is in a couple weeks. I made the first-cut back in January. So it’s been going really well. We’ve been working with a USA fitness trainer. The workouts have been great. I think the team is going to be really good. And if I keep it up I think I can definitely make the team. I’ve also started a sponsorship with Nike. Some great things are happening. 

Megan takes the time to visit friends in the hospital. She even brings her gold medal from the 2016 Paralympics for people to see!

Megan takes the time to visit friends in the hospital. She even brings her gold medal from the 2016 Paralympics for people to see!

 

What was it like to shoot the Nike commercial?

It was pretty awesome. I got to shoot hoops with Kobe too, did you see that? (Click here to watch it!)

That was going to be my next question, what was it like to shoot the commercial with Kobe?

It was awesome, he’s just a really genuine person. It was definitely a motivating experience. You know, sometimes you start to get a little burnt out. Especially with the para-olympics, there’s not always a lot of recognition and wider support. But the sponsorship with Nike, and hanging with Kobe, it’s definitely helpful as a motivating factor. 

Has the level of inspiration that you provide to people, has that really set in yet?

Honestly ever since I got on these anti-depressants a few months ago, I never thought I’d know what it felt like to live without depression. Everything is like hitting me hard. Sometimes it can be a whirlwind. Three major sponsorships. All of these speeches. The feedback I’m getting from the speeches. It’s all just…it’s amazing. I feel like I’m finally…I was going through a phase like a week or so ago where I’m understanding the impact that I can really have to make things better. Nike brought me to their headquarters last weekend to speak to their creatives. They wanted to hear my story to get some inspiration for their next piece leading up to the para-olympics. I got to tell them, like, the stigma that we feel and just how hard it can be to hold your head up at times. All of these different things, I now have a stronger voice because of Nike and just because I didn’t give up. And I really feel like this is my path and this is my purpose. It was hard to fathom that for awhile. Like playing a sport for my job…it’s just weird. But now it’s getting to the point where I know I’m more than just an athlete, like I can make a difference. 

Megan giving a speech to soldiers at JBLM

Megan giving a speech to soldiers at JBLM

Megan has become an inspiration and role model to people of all ages!

Megan has become an inspiration and role model to people of all ages!

Last question for you—for people who may be going through a hard time right now, what advice might you have for them?

That the hard times make you stronger and make the good that much better. That’s how I look at the hard times now. When you struggle you really appreciate the good so much more. Just keep going.