Special. Amazing. Inspirational.
These are the words that former UMass Lowell women’s lacrosse player Noelle Lambert uses to describe her recent experience at the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai as a member of the United States Paralympic team.
They’re also adjectives that could be applied to Lambert, who has been meeting every goal she’s set for herself since a 2016 moped accident resulted in her left leg being amputated above the knee.
Since that time, she’s returned to the lacrosse field with the River Hawks on a prosthetic leg, playing in eight Division 1 contests and scoring a goal in a 2018 game against Hartford.
And though she’s graduated from UMass Lowell, Lambert’s competitive spirit lives on.
“It’s just the way I am and I’m grateful for that,” Lambert said Wednesday. “I could have let the accident just end my athletic career, but that’s not how I am. I was going to keep going. I wasn’t going to let that define who I was.”
Her latest athletic endeavor saw Lambert place fourth in the 100 meter T63 race at the championship meet, setting a U.S. record for the race with a time of 16.31 seconds at the International Paralympic Committee-organized event, which ran Nov. 7 to 15. Some 1,300 athletes from over 100 countries participated, hoping to earn spots at the 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Seeing all the things that everyone else had gone through to get there and compete, it was inspiring,” the 22-year-old said. “They’ve all worked through things and gone on to compete. It was a really special couple of weeks there.”
Ever the competitor, Lambert says she’s looking forward to next year and hopes she’ll get a shot to take part in the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
“I’ve looked back at my run and saw several things that I could have done better,” she said. “I know I’ll be able to do better next year in Japan. I enjoyed the two weeks in Dubai and the competition, but I’m ready to get back to work on that.”
For those in awe of Lambert’s athletic drive, her ability to inspire goes far beyond physical feats. Following her own accident, Lambert founded the Born to Run Foundation while still at Umass Lowell, aiming to provide expensive athletic prosthetics to those in need.
The foundation has already delivered five such donations: one waterproof prosthesis for swimming and four running blades. The group will present a prosthetic yoga arm this weekend to a yoga instructor who lost her arm.
“I don’t really think of myself as an inspiration or anything for anyone else, but I want to be able to help people who might not have the money for a custom prosthetic. They can be really expensive and some insurances won’t cover any of the cost,” Lambert said. “It’s a chance to show people that they can still go on and live how they want to and keep doing the things they did before.
“A lot of people have helped me keep going, but you have to want to do it. And I want to help people who want to keep going.”
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