Sumter County native continues to overcome life’s obstacles

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 11:01 PM CDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTOK) - In 2016, former Sumter County resident, Laquinta “Q” Hayes, was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that affects long bones in the body.

Shortly after her diagnosis, Hayes and her doctors decided their best course of action would be to amputate her left leg, above the knee, but her diagnosis and its treatment didn’t keep her from living life to its fullest.

“I was blessed... You know, with good people that just surrounded me and believed in me to be more than just an amputee,” Hayes said.

Hayes got involved with adapted sports after her leg was amputated.

She picked up softball, basketball, and rugby, but that wasn’t all she picked up.

She picked up soccer as well, even though she had never played it before in her life.

Unlike other adaptive sports that use wheelchairs, athletes use crutches to move around in soccer.

Crutches were difficult for Hayes at first, but she didn’t let that stop her from playing.

“Once it’s hard for me, I want it now, I really want it. So I kept going out, and I kept training. I went to a couple of training camps in New Jersey, one in California, and one in Texas, and I’m like, ‘you know what? This is going to be my sport’” Hayes said.

All that hard work has paid off for her, as Hayes will now represent the United States as a member of the first USA Women’s Amputee Soccer Team.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. If someone would have told me I would be an amputee athlete going out of the country for a second time, for a sport I’ve never played, I probably would have looked at them and been like, ‘You lost your mind. There’s no way that’s happening,’ but it’s happening,” she said.

Through all the trials and tribulations in her life, a simple message has helped her to keep going.

“Never give up. If you feel like it’s difficult, keep pushing, because it’s a great feeling to be on this side of cancer. It’s a great feeling to be on this side of a disability. I like to look at things like, ‘This isn’t my disability, it’s my new ability,’ and I always tell people, ‘Make someone smile today.’ That’s free... It’s free,” Hayes added.

Hayes and her team left for Poland on Wednesday, and they will begin their quest for the 2023 Amputee Futbol Cup, this weekend.

USA’s first match is against Poland on Saturday, at 4 AM Central Standard Time.

For more information on the Amputee Futbol Cup and how you can watch the games, visit: