Downhill Racer
MATT GERIAK
When he was 21, Matt Geriak was in a perfect place to do what he loved. He was a member of the ski team at the University of Colorado and had Olympic aspirations. But then he was diagnosed with cancer in his leg, and forced to undergo amputation. “That was a big blow to me, because I was very athletic,” he says. His skiing career shot – or so he thought – he returned to his native Southern California. During chemotherapy, he met Ron
Orr.
“Ron offered me a lot of incentives to get myself motivated, to get out and do the things I was going to normally do anyway,” he says. After recovering, he took a slightly different tack in pursuit of his dreams: he spent summers taking classes at USC and winters in Colorado on the U.S. Disabled Ski Team. He even competed in the Disabled Olympics in France, skiing well in the downhill and slalom against “good, high-level competition.”
His Olympic dream fulfilled, Geriak retired from ski racing to attend pharmacy school full-time at USC. Last year he received his Pharm.D., passed the boards and began working as a clinical pharmacy resident at the Veterans Administration Hospital in San Diego.
Now he wants to be among those who helps others.
“A lot of people gave me encouragement,” he says. “Someone who is now in the situation I was in right after I lost my leg can look at me and say, ‘Hey, that guy made it. Maybe I can do the same thing.’ ”


 

 


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