Amputee athlete from South Dakota dies of cancer
Mitchell, S.D. • A record-setting amputee athlete from South Dakota has died after losing a second battle with cancer.
Hunter Bork, 23, died Tuesday at a Vermillion hospital, according to Kober Funeral Home. Funeral arrangements were still pending early Thursday.
Bork starred in track and field for Mount Vernon High School but lost his left leg to bone cancer shortly after graduating. He used a prosthetic leg while competing for Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell from 2009-11.
In 2011 he set an American high jump record at the U.S. Paralympics Track and Field National Championships in Miramar, Fla., with a leap of 4 feet, 10.25 inches. He also competed in the 100-meter dash and the long jump.
"He was an inspiration to all of our kids," Dakota Wesleyan Athletic Director Curt Hart told The Daily Republic newspaper. "It's just too bad that bad things happen to good people."
Bork's cancer, which spread to his neck and spine, went into remission after his leg was amputated but it returned in 2011. Ernie Bork, Hunter's father, said last December that his son had endured about 15 surgeries because of the disease.
Bork told the newspaper after his Paralympics high jump win in 2011 that he had worked hard and the accomplishment felt "awesome."
"I was ready to compete, and I was going to do my best to win it," he said at the time. "I was pretty ecstatic once I did."
The banner showing Bork's accomplishment still hangs over the office of Dakota Wesleyan track and field coach Pat Belling.
"He absolutely made a huge impact on my life," Belling said. "He's one of the strongest and most resilient people I've ever met. I'm very fortunate to have been able to work with him for the couple years he was here. I'm going to miss him dearly, and I'm not the only one."