Watervliet lifeguard completes 14 triathlons as an amputee

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A local woman who was forced to have part of one of her legs amputated after an accident is showing people her physical challenges do not define her.

Chele Teabout, a certified lifeguard at the Watervliet pool, was the victim of an accident 25 years ago that changed her life forever.

Teabout, who is a former Albany corrections officer, was on the job when she was hit by a food cart that weighed more than 500 pounds.

“Well the cart, was an institutional-sized food cart, and it held the food for 50 inmates…” Teabout explained. “It pinched the nerves between the bones of my ankle, and we didn’t find that out until eight months after physical therapy, and by then the nerves had just been severely damaged.”

Teabout spent the next 17 years of her life in excruciating pain, trying to save her leg. She had 29 surgeries as she dealt with depression.

“And when my doctor found out that I had attempted to take my life because I couldn’t live with this pain anymore — it was just constant nagging and never went away — he said it was time. We’d fought the good fight, it was time to let it go,” Teabout added.

“I wouldn’t be doing this now if I didn’t get hurt.”

Chele Teabout

On the road to recovery, she found a group called Challenged Athletes Foundation. It’s an organization that provides support to people with physical challenges.

“They flew me out to San Diego, and it was there that I had hope,” Teabout said. “I was surrounded around 1,500 people, like me.”

She’s been unstoppable since then.

“I wouldn’t be doing this now if I didn’t get hurt. I’m a kid of the 80s,” Teabout added. “I ran, I swam and I biked. Did I do them as one organized sport? No. I’ve done 14 triathlons since losing my leg. It’s just a different path.”

Twenty-five years post accident, Teabout’s got a new leg, a new life, and a new attitude.

“‘Good job kid,’ I can hear my uncle, ‘Good job kiddo. You made us proud,'” she said.

Click here for more information on how you can support people with similar stories and donate to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.