Paralympian state representative brings "value" to legislature through lifelong experiences; link to our full story

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When new Idaho state Rep. Muffy Davis was 16, her life changed forever. As a top-ranked U.S. Junior Team ski racer and avid athlete, the Sun Valley native had always dreamed of competing on the U.S. Winter Olympics team, writes Idaho Press reporter Savannah Cardon, and she was well on her way to fulfilling that dream. But things took a turn after she was hurt in a ski accident, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.

“The first day going back to high school in a wheelchair — from being a top star athlete to someone in a wheelchair — it was devastating. It was hard,” Davis said. “As I rolled down the hallways, it was the parting of the Red Sea — you’d roll into a room and you could just feel the energy of people.”

Being paralyzed didn’t keep Davis from the slopes, or from success. She discovered the Paralympic Games — an international sporting event for athletes with disabilities — and became a record-setting multiple medalist. She also pursued other dreams, from marriage and motherhood to college at Stanford University, to traveling the world as a motivational speaker and teaching adaptive sports and recreation to people with disabilities.

Politics, Davis said, was never in the plan. But her passion for health care, women’s rights and closing the Medicaid gap sparked her interest in running for District 26’s House Seat A. She defeated third-term GOP incumbent Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield, with 56.3 percent of the vote to his 43.7 percent.

For the 2019 legislative session, Davis said she is primarily focused on funding and implementing Medicaid expansion. She’s also examining putting forward a bill involving local control. As a new legislator, Davis has already left her mark on lawmakers.“What a story of courage, and I have nothing but complete respect,” said House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.

House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, said he shares a personal connection with Davis, with a similar background in using athletics as a way to advocate for health and leadership; he’s an outfitter and guide who’s known for climbing some of the world’s highest mountains.

“It’s awesome having Rep. Davis here,” Erpelding said. “She has an amazing background, whether it be her athletics, her accomplishments or all of her life experiences, but she’s also a person who’s just excited about this.” You can read Cardon’s full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today’s Idaho Press; it’s on the front page.

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