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Plainfield amputee, heart attack survivor vying for 2024 Paralympics

Uriah Steffens strives to spread a message of love, hope and power through triathlon.

PLAINFIELD, Ind. — Plainfield resident Uriah Steffen doesn't let anything get in his way.

"It's always been about pursuing and presenting this message of love, hope and power through triathlon," he said. "Just to keep moving forward."

Throughout his life, he's experienced peaks and valleys. 

"From about 2005 to 2010 I was in kind of a dark place," Steffen said. "I was dealing with addiction and alcoholism, which led to job loss, which led to homelessness and evictions. I needed to wake up a little bit and to change some things in my life."

Steffen started a family and found a healthy outlet in biking. But the good times were stopped in their tracks. 

"Oct. 15, 2012, I was riding my bicycle to work and got hit head-on by a truck," Steffen said. "It was an instantaneous amputation."

Steffen lost the lower part of his left leg and was forced to make a major adjustment.

"All I want to do at that time is get back on my bike and learn to ride my bike," Steffen said. "I want to learn to run again, to be independent."

It didn't take long for Steffen to push himself.

RELATED: 3-time Paralympic medalist Noah Malone returns home to Fishers

"I competed in my first super sprint triathlon here in Brownsburg, Indiana, in 2018," he said. "I got bit by the bug. I just fell in love with the sport right away."

But just as he was getting comfortable, he had another setback. A heart attack in October 2021 at the age of 35.

"We still treated him like anybody with a heart attack," said Dr. Richard Kovacs, a cardiologist at IU Health Methodist Hospital. "Everybody who has a heart attack should go through cardiac rehabilitation."

“He goes, 'For the next three months, I need you to take it easy,'" Steffen recalled of Kovacs.. 

At the start of the new year, the dream was back on. 

"We made sure not that he could exercise to the level that a usual patient could — even a very active usual patient. We exercised him to the level that he was going to be competing at," Kovacs said. "He was down here on an exercise bicycle with his prosthesis and just cranking it. We pushed him to elite levels."

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Steffen is grateful.

"I wouldn't be this individual had I not gone through those struggles," he said. "I wouldn't be the champion that I am today."

Steffen is looking to qualify for the Paralympic Games in 2024. The next two weeks, he'll be traveling to compete in triathlon internationally. He's currently ranked fourth in the United States in Paralympic triathlon.

MORE: Fishers native Noah Malone headed to Paralympic Games

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