Kristina Ripatti has always lived her life with a grit and determination that has allowed her to overcome its obstacles. She has constantly challenged herself to be the best and work the hardest at every goal that she has set for herself. She thrived under the intense competition of collegiate soccer and after graduation she joined the elite and demanding ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Kristina chose to work as a gang unit officer on patrol in infamous South Central Los Angeles. For 11 years she faced the demands of dealing with gangs, violence and drugs, contributing in a way that she thought would have the most impact on public safety. Kristina enjoyed her work and did not realize that she was about to face life’s biggest test yet.
A foot pursuit of a suspicious person suddenly went all wrong when the suspect pulled a gun and shot Kristina three times. One of those bullets narrowly missed her body armor coming to rest in her spinal column. Through the heroic efforts of fellow officers, paramedics and surgeons Kristina survived and awoke in the hospital facing the devastating news that she was now a T2 paraplegic paralyzed from the chest down.
The things that had defined Kristina’s life - policing and athletics, were gone. Even the most mundane daily tasks’ had become seemingly insurmountable. There were the inevitable moments of self-pity, anger and doubt, but there was also the support family, friends and comrades. Kristina drew strength from her husband Tim Pearce, also a police officer, and baby daughter Jordan. Slowly she once again began doing what she has always done - setting goals for herself.
Rehabilitation progressed and Kristina began to adjust to the everyday demands of life as a paraplegic. It was time for new challenges and Kristna set about pursuing them with the same energy and resolve she had used before she was shot.
She once again turned to athletics and started daily workouts that included weight training and swimming. With the help of the Challenged Athletes Foundation she began training with a handcycle and successfully completed the 2009 Boston and LA Marathons.
Kristina has also given birth to a son, Lucas and enjoys surfing, fishing and off-roading with her husband and family. She has begun graduate level course work and volunteers with Operation Progress, an organization founded by a fellow officer that is dedicated to providing scholarships to inner city youth.
Kristina will continue face challenges with grit and determination, dedicated to making the most of her life regardless of the obstacles placed before her.
Prior to my injury, fitness and working out was my passion. I had a routine that consisted of running 6 miles to the gym followed by a rigorous circuit-weight training routine. I would be completely soaked in sweat by the end and often times people would approach me and ask if I was training for a professional sport. I would laugh and respond, “No, I’m just training for life!” Ironically I never knew how true that would be.
On the night of June 3, 2006, I was shot 3 times during a foot pursuit of a robbery suspect while on duty as an LAPD officer. The bullet that entered my chest, tore through my left lung, and brachial artery before busting through my T2 vertebrae and lodging in my spinal column, leaving me paralyzed from the chest down. The damage to the artery caused me to lose a large amount of blood. The Doctors stated that my fitness level at the time was a determining factor in my survival.
Now, “Train for life” is no longer just a motto it has become my mission. And it doesn’t just apply to working out in the gym but to everything I do each day to get through my life. Train for life is preparing today for the challenges that we will face tomorrow. It is taking advantage of opportunities given and living life to its fullest... And it is becoming my opportunity to help give back to others.