Hart receives inspiration from true hero

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Johnny Lightning

Go Bolts
Feb 7, 2006
Friday, Jun 30, 2006
By Casey Pearce, Chargers.com
Occasionally when practices get long and Chargers safety Clinton Hart starts to feel the physical toll that accompanies the day to day grind of life in the NFL, he needs a little added inspiration.

“Sometimes those two-a-days are tough to get through and the wind sprints at the end of practice test me,” Hart said. “You just have to be mentally strong and find ways to push yourself through.”

In order to do that, Hart keeps images of a few inspirational figures in his locker. Among them are statues of Rocky Balboa and the Incredible Hulk. But Hart recently added another memento to his collection, and unlike Rocky and the Hulk, the true story of Hart’s most recently acknowledged hero hits the Bolts safety like none other.

The image is an autographed photo of Regas Woods, a Florida athlete who was born with a congenital anomaly that prevented the proper development of his legs. At the age of two, both of Woods’ legs were amputated above the knees. Doctors told him that he would never be able to run, but with the use of prosthetics, Woods competes in track and field events around the country.

“His story is absolutely amazing,” Hart said. “The first time that I met him, he was wearing jeans and I couldn’t even tell that he had prosthetics. He puts a lot of things in perspective. He could have lived life in a wheel chair, but he decided that he wanted to run and be the fastest. He’s in great shape. He’s never laid down, and he pushes to embrace that attitude.”

Hart met Woods through a real estate agent in Florida who was friends with Woods. The two immediately formed a friendship, and Hart became enthralled with the story of his new friend, so much that he put his money where his mouth was.

“Regas and his mom were traveling to all these events, and it was costing them a ton of money,” Hart said. “They needed support, so I offered to take care of them.”

When Woods, who is the fastest bilateral amputee in the world, and his mother travel to track meet, Hart picks up the bill for the airfare, hotel and transportation once they arrive.

“Clinton has been a godsend to me and my mom,” said Regas, who runs the 100 meters in 15.66 seconds. “There have been races that I couldn’t get to because I couldn’t afford travel. We’ve made sacrifices and even had our lights turned off so that we could get to races. His blessing lifts the financial weight from my family. It allows me to get to these events and show the world that what I’m doing is possible.”

Woods’ general attitude toward life is what inspires Hart the most. Although Woods is eligible for disability, he refuses it. On top of his running, he works full time for Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics.

“I don’t need disability right now,” Woods said. “I work 40 hours per week. I’m a technician, but I also get to do some modeling and show our products to patients. I have a chance to reassure them that life is not over and that they can still live a normal life.”

Amongst NFL players, Hart has a pretty special story in his own right. Following high school, Hart passed up opportunities to play college football in order to stay close to home and care for his family. He instead played baseball at Central Florida Community College. After attending a tryout with the Tallahassee Thunder of the Arena2 league, Hart worked his way through the ranks and eventually won a spot on the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad. He spent a spring in NFL Europe and then landed on the Eagles’ 53-man roster. After being waived during the 2003 season, Hart signed with the Chargers and now finds himself competing for a starting spot in the defensive secondary.

“I’ve always been proud of everything I’ve overcome to make it to the NFL, but I’m blown away by what Regas has done,” Hart said. “He truly is an inspiration. If our stories got in the right hands, I think it could be a pretty good movie.”

With the help of Hart, Woods is hopeful that he’ll garner enough attention to eventually convince the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to include bi-lateral amputees in Paralympic events.

“There are no events because for so long it’s been said that it’s impossible for a bi-lateral amputee to run,” Woods said. “I’ve defeated that. My main goal is to get as many places I can and show the world that it is possible. Maybe if it doesn’t become an event during my lifetime, someone will eventually benefit from what I’m doing.”

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Well-Known Member
Feb 14, 2006
Good read.

For the newer posters, Clinton Hart's posse attends a few of the tailgaters.

His fiance' Kelli and best friend Mark live on the east coast so they fly out occassionally.

From left to right:

Kelli - Me - Wife (Linda) - Mark