(Photo courtesy of NoelleLambert.com)
Paralympian Noelle Lambert in the 100-meter sprint
Noelle Lambert played women’s lacrosse at UMass Lowell and graduated in 2019. Her freshman year, she was the leading point scorer on her team. After losing her leg in a moped accident in 2016, not only did Noelle return to play lacrosse, but she went on to join the U.S. Paralympic Track and Field team.
Lambert did this with no prior experience in track and field. Lambert participated in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics where she broke her own previous record from 2019 for the US Women’s 100-meter sprint. She was able to set the record twice despite having little experience in sprinting compared to other US Paralympians.
The games were postponed from 2020 to August and September 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked about her time at UMass Lowell, Lambert said, “It was definitely amazing, I credit the University, faculty, and everything. They could have easily brushed me aside after the accident, but everyone went above and beyond to try to get my old life back.”
When asked about the transition from playing lacrosse in college to competing in track and field in the Paralympics, Lambert said, “Growing up, I had always participated in team sports and never really individual sports so transitioning to everything relying on me was definitely mentally challenging. But I think that playing lacrosse prepared me for the time commitment and work ethic that I needed to be putting in for sprinting.”
On her decision to become a Paralympian, she said, “Someone mentioned it to me when I was in the hospital and said maybe you could do the Paralympics in a different sport, so it was always in the back of my head. In my junior year after I returned to lacrosse, someone on the Paralympic Track and Field team reached out so that’s when I seriously started thinking about it.”
During the rehabilitation process from her injury, Lambert came to the realization that many amputees don’t have access to the finances to afford specialized prosthetics.
Because of this, Noelle went on to create the Born to Run Foundation to help those in need afford prosthetics that could allow them to perform athletically.
Although COVID-19 made this year’s Paralympics different than others, Lambert explained how seeing Tokyo and competing amongst the world’s best athletes was an amazing experience. She now has her eyes set on the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
Lambert has also started training for the Winter Paralympics in snowboarding which she picked up last winter.
Lambert’s story is truly one of overcoming great adversity. On top of being a Paralympian, Noelle is also a motivational speaker and makes frequent appearances in New England and around the country. For more information on the Born to Run Foundation visit: theborntorunfoundation.org.
“I think it’s amazing just because it’s full-circle for me. I was that person in need of a specialized prosthetic to play lacrosse and live the life I want, so to be able to generate funds and to be able to donate to other people, it’s very humbling and an amazing experience. A lot of people don’t realize the cost of prosthetics and insurance companies usually don’t help in getting anything other than a basic prosthetic.”