Thomas A. Giannettino is someone who doesn’t give up easily. After 21 years in the Air Force and New York Air National Guard, he began a career with the New York State Police in 1999. Working as a uniform trooper at the beginning and later promoted to Investigator in 2007, his most proud moment was assisting in New York City after 9/11. He says “I am so humbled that I had the privilege of being a part of that time in history.”
While on duty in November of 2011, Tom was brutally assaulted and suffered a life changing injury to his shoulder, leaving him depressed and not sure where to turn. After numerous surgeries and much time spent rehabilitating his shoulder and arm, his range of motion remained severely impacted and with very little use of his arm. His doctor finally delivered the news that he should consider finding a different career and Tom retired in 2012.
He didn’t let that stop him, however, and giving up has never been an option. He started competing in triathlons in 2013 and to date has received top billing in multiple Northeast Region Paratriathlons, a Half Ironman, Sprint Distance events and more. The difficulty and discipline of the triathlon is what drew Tom’s attention and because he was required to learn to swim and bike with just one arm, the mental determination was also a way to allow him to heal both physically and mentally.
So far this season, Tom has raced in East London, South Africa and Sunshine Coast Australia. Tom said “I can definitely improve, but I’ve earned enough points so far to be world ranked and in the hunt to become a Paralympics’ hopeful for Rio in 2016.” Bravo, Tom! At the writing of this article, Tom is competing for the Paratriathlon Continental Championship in Monterrey, Mexico.
Citing his father as his role model, Tom credits many of his own traits and core values as being linked directly to the valuable lessons he learned from his father, a Marine during WWII. Any free time he has that is not dedicated to training, he spends with his family, and Tom also happens to be a movie buff. If you ask Tom what one thing most people don’t know about him, it’s that he loves rap music!
Tom isn’t just determined to improving his own health and the quality of his family relationships, he also gives back a considerable amount of time by volunteering for Operation Homeland Honor, an organization developed to help permanently injured first responders and veterans become active in sports and competition as a way to heal and become active again in life. Additionally, he participates and volunteers with the Second Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club. As a participant, he is a member of their elite athlete team but as a volunteer, he gives his time to assist with the kid’s camp and other various activities providing guidance and instruction of the sport of triathlon to physically challenged and visually impaired athletes. If that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he also volunteers with Team RWB and Code 9: Officer Needs Assistance, both of which were crucial in Tom’s own suffering and healing from Post Traumatic Stress.
During the Fairfax 2015 Games, Tom is looking forward to reconnecting with his Operation Homeland Honor teammates, who are scattered all over the country, but will be reuniting this Summer in Fairfax, Virginia!