Meet Adaptive Athlete: Lee Kuxhaus



MJR Lee Kuxhaus, USAF, Ret.


DOB: January 3rd, 1966

DOI: June 3rd, 2011

Injury: Below Knee Amputee

Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Lee grew up as an avid reader, with a strong interest in both math and science. Her interests led her to pursue industrial engineering and she graduated with her undergraduate degree in 1990. She also got married during her time in college and had her first son the same year after graduating. 

Lee began work as a Quality and Liability Engineer as a civilian for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command before getting her Masters Degree in Systems Engineering in 1992, and giving birth to her second born, a daughter, in 1993. But Lee wasn’t done with school yet. She joined the Air Force in 1996 as a reserve in order to go to Medical School, with the intention of serving her country as a physician. While in school, Lee had two more children and graduated as an Osteopathic Physician and Radiologist in 2000. 

While stationed at Travis Air Force base in California, Lee was put through a training program in Flight Medicine. During that time, the country was shocked with 9/11, and Lee knew all her training was about to be put to the test. Saying goodbye to a husband and four kids, Lee courageously deployed for 100 days in December of 2001 to an island in the Indian Ocean. 

Germany was the next stop for her and her family. For the next three years, she was stationed at a hospital where many war casualties were sent to recover before returning to the U.S. From there, she had a six-month deployment to Iraq, working as the Chief of Radiology at a hospital.

Lee returned with her family to the states in 2009, stationed at a hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. A few years later, she became gravely ill unexpectedly. What started with her trying to power through a sick day at work, ended with her being intubated in the ICU. It was discovered that she had sepsis and was experiencing kidney, liver, and adrenal failure. The doctors that worked alongside her were now doing everything in their power to save her life. At her lowest points, they thought she only had an hour to live. As a result of blood leaving her extremities to protect her core, Lee fought to keep her limbs. 

She went through a rough fight with limb salvage and ended up losing her left leg in 2013. Issues with prosthetics led her to stay in her wheelchair, but she found ways to flourish. She became a high-level wheelchair athlete in 2016, setting personal records in every event except for two. Lee tried again with her prosthetic and changed her mindset to living instead of just walking. This vastly improved her mentality and success, and today is walking with her prosthetic. 

Recently, Lee has gone through an ACL reconstruction as well as a broken ankle from skydiving and is hoping this Hyper program will help get her back into peak shape. She has aspirations of doing spartan races and other things to challenge herself. Lee also competes in the para skeleton and is hoping to secure a spot on Team USA in 2021.