RIVERSIDE, Calif. — The gym is now 22-year-old Clarice Sykes' second home. For her, working out and lifting weights is second nature.
"It just feels like home. Working out always makes me happy and it’s bettering myself," she said of the gym.
Although these days, her workouts are concentrated on the upper body — a change since losing both of her legs.
One year ago, Sykes was riding her horse Comanche in the Jurupa Valley, when he was spooked by a train. In the process, she was thrown from her horse and into the side of the fast-moving train.
“Nobody to this day knows exactly what happened," explained Clarice's mother, Laura Sykes.
Clarice underwent a double amputation post-accident and suffered a small brain injury. But even after undergoing such a traumatic incident, she speaks of her experience with a profound sense of acceptance.
“I didn’t want my old life back, like regular legs, but I wanted I guess normality," she said. "I realized nothing was gonna change, so I guess this is my new normal.”
Now, her days are spent pushing herself to reach that new normal. In addition to daily trips to the gym, Clarice also makes time to swim in the pool and spend time with her horses.
Clarice said a lot of her attitude comes from her background as an army reservist, and her hope to inspire others in similar situations.
"I’ve learned I’m a lot stronger as an individual mentally and that I can do more than I ever thought I could," she said.
"I wanna be a positive influence in everyone’s lives.”