“How exactly did you get hit by a paintball gun at work?” a nurse asked me as I made my way through the Occupational Medicine hallway.
“Well, I am a photographer for The Roanoke Times,” I said.
One of the greatest things, and sometimes painful things, about being a photojournalist is that we are in the middle of the action. I am lucky to be able to say that I have been up in a hot air balloon and a helicopter while simply doing my job. More painful experiences would include getting kicked in the head while photographing a bowler ( a story for another time) and being hit six times by paintballs. Four on the right shoulder, one on the left forearm and finally one in the head.
As I stood in the middle of a holler in Troutville and watched men hide behind bunkers and aim for one another I knew there was potential of being hit, but a picture taken safely from up on the hillside just wouldn’t do.
Around 3:30 in the afternoon as I watched Jeremiah Keeler climb the side of a hill and position himself to shoot I felt a stinging sensation on my right side, and in my head. I looked down to see orange paint and heard Keeler yell, “Hey man, she’s just trying to take pictures!”
I continued to photograph the rest of the game….while hiding behind a bunker.
I decided to go to the doctor when my headache didn’t go away the next afternoon, but realized that my pain would be worth the story in the end.
As the doctor looked into my ear and literally told me my brains were not leaking out he excitedly asked me where people were playing paintball. Apparently, his sons are huge fans of the game and haven’t had anywhere to play. I told him I couldn’t remember the phone number off the top of my head at that moment, but that he could keep a lookout for the story in the Roanoke Times Extra section.