When a car ran a light, slamming into the side of the car Ann Yoshida was riding in, Yoshida was left paralyzed and with a brain injury that required her to be placed in a medically induced coma.
After months, Yoshida awoke only to find that she couldn't speak, she had to use sign language to communicate. As she lay in the hospital working through the painful rehabilitation, Yoshida found another way to connect with people—through hugs. Yoshida required a hug from everyone who came to visit her as her way of saying "Aloha."
An athletic and competitive person, Yoshida wasn't conquered. Relying on her spirituality, she quickly began doing all of the things she loved to do before: tennis, racing, surfing, outrigger canoeing, off-road hand-cycling, paddle boarding. painting, and traveling.
Now, Yoshida is planning on competing in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. Outside of competing, Yoshida is pursuing a doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy at Pacific University and devotes her time to rehabilitating others who have been injured and making her community more inclusive for people of all abilities.
On Team USA, Yoshida posted her life motto, which reads: "When we focus on being normal, we exclude the possibility of being extraordinary."