PITTSFIELD — Kyle Robinson nestled the shot against the right side of his neck, parallel to the yellow Swoosh on his black, Nike sunglasses.

He then rocked back and propelled the metal orb forward in one, semi-fluid motion that he punctuated with a grunt. The ball fell to the ground with a thud, but not nearly as far away as the 2015 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B discus champion is accustomed.

“Not so easy without any legs, is it,” questioned Christy Gardner from a few feet away before Robinson smiled and agreed.

“It’s a lot harder without using your legs. It’s just totally different aspect of it,” Robinson, a senior at Lawrence High School, said. “We’re so lucky to be able to use our legs when we’re throwing. It’s a totally different ballgame.”

Robinson was one of a couple hundred athletes who participated in the Second Annual Husky Throwdown on Saturday at Maine Central Institute. This year, though, there was a new addition — other than a second discus cage — to the throwers-only track and field event, as head coach Jason Allen invited Gardner to attend.

“The athletics folks and Jason Allen invited me up to hang out with the kids,” Gardner said, “and show them the Paralympic version of the sport to kind of give them a well-rounded appreciation of what they can do.”

A decade ago this July, Gardner’s skull and spine were traumatically injured while serving with the Army in Korea. Her injuries were so severe she was told by her doctors at the time that she would never be capable of living alone.

Since then she has proven that assessment categorically false with some help from her service dog, Moxie, a friendly golden retriever who on this day spent her time trudging through teams’ pop-up tents, playing an occasional game of fetch with a lacrosse ball and seeking out areas shaded from the cloudless sky.

“She’s the superstar.” Gardner said.

Saturday was another afternoon in what has become a very busy life for the 33-year-old Edward Little High alumna. In addition to working full-time at Varney’s Labs, a Labrador breeder in Turner, Gardner is also a member of the U.S. Women’s National Sled Hockey team, which won a gold medal at the Sled Hockey International Women’s Cup in 2014.

Now, thanks to a recent procedure, Gardner has her sights set on the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a thrower. She will compete in the International Paralympic Committee Grand Prix in Phoenix on May 10 and then the Paralympic trials in Charlotte, North Carolina in June to determine if she will make the team.

The injuries to her skull and spine left her with little or no feeling — other than pain — in her feet and ankles. Last May she had her left leg amputated at about the middle of her shin, and in February she had the same procedure done on her right leg. The procedures, categorized as elective, were not covered through the VA Medical Center, but she managed to raise the funds through charitable donations.

“Since this is for quality of life and to get out of the wheelchair and off the couch they didn’t support that,” said Gardner, while noting the outpouring of support she received in donations was overwhelming. “My doctor and my orthopedist were great about it. They thought it would make me more active and I agree, it has, but the VA still said that they wouldn’t cover the surgery.

“Now, they’ve stepped to the plate and taken care of everything afterwards, which has been phenomenal.”

Not surprisingly, Gardner has an interesting take on the procedures.

“I’ve had so many more opportunities now that I’ve become more disabled, if you can put it that way. The label is more disabled,” Gardner frankly said. “People look at me funny now and people thank me for my service now that it’s more visible, but my life has become more active, more hectic.

“I’ve done so many more cool things that I never had the opportunity to do before.”

Also included on that lengthy list are public speaking engagements, when possible. Gardner spoke at MCI as a part of its Patterson Lecture Series in February, and according to Taylor Hall, a senior thrower on the girls track team, she made an impact.

“Usually when we have speakers not everybody is paying attention but she definitely had everybody’s attention,” Hall said. “It’s very, very powerful. It’s motivational, too. She’s so strong and she doesn’t let it get to her. She’s so positive about everything. She doesn’t mind talking about it and just being open about it.”

It was a similar atmosphere on Saturday as athletes wandered over in between events to Gardner, where she shot the breeze, offered throwing advice and set them up to try the Paralympic version of the shot put and javelin.

“In the Paralympic version you have a specialized throwing chair,” she said. “It has height regulations and size regulations, and just a flat seat you get strapped down onto and then one pole for leverage where you can hold onto that with your non-throwing hand.”

John Longfellow, a sophomore at Hall-Dale High School, was focused on his events and had not yet gotten a chance to see Gardner throw, though he said he had intentions of doing so. Even still, Gardner’s presence at the meet had an impact.

“It motivates me to work harder,” Longfellow said. “It shows me that you can mentally overcome whatever you need to overcome. You can overcome it if you try hard enough and work towards it.”

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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