A sense of purpose

At 18, Chelsie Nitschke had clear goals. She had joined the Army and planned to become an officer. She didn’t have money for college so this was a way to get a good education. She enlisted in the Delayed Entry Program to take classes so she could enter at a higher rank.

Chelsie was driving down the middle of I65 to a Basic Training meeting when a wheel fell off her car. Too dangerous to get out of the car, Chelsie called 911 but before help could arrive she was rear ended. As they loaded Chelsie into the ambulance, she told the EMTs to call her recruiters to let them know she wouldn’t make it that day. She had no idea how serious her accident was. She had a C4-C5 spinal cord injury, which meant she was paralyzed from the neck down.

Chelsie’s plans have changed but her enthusiasm and sense of purpose haven’t. Although she wasn’t wounded in battle, she believes she can relate to the physical and emotional challenges of veterans and wants to find a way to help them. A self-described “professional learner,” Chelsie will be applying for a scholarship from the Shoot for the Future Scholarship Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee in January.

Meanwhile she’s volunteering for Wounded Warrior, competing in bicycle racing and reading. She says, “What keeps me going is the ability to know more. I have a lot of ideas of what I can do.”