U.S. Bobsledder Reaches Olympic Dream After Life On The Streets

04/24/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Three-time U.S. Olympian Bill Schuffenhauer has had a rough road to the Vancouver Olympic games, CNN reports. But he'll need the iron that helped him face down his former struggles to find new success, even after the Olympics are over.

Shuffenhauer grew up on the streets of Salt Lake City, sometimes homeless, scavenging from garbage cans and getting in trouble for stealing things to get money for food.

He had few friends, most of them acquaintances of his mother or the other street kids, many of whom were in gangs. His mom and stepfather were constantly getting evicted. When he wasn't homeless and living in a park, he lived in foster homes. He skipped school a lot. He drank and got high on weed.

But after being taken in by his grandmother, Shuffenhauer began to attend school regularly and was told that the running skills he developed out of necessity as a child to avoid dangerous situations could take him to the Olympics.

An ankle injury in 2000 took him out of the running for the Sydney Olympics, but Schuffenhauer got back in the game as a bobsledder after joining the U.S. team in 2002. He won a silver medal at the Salt Lake Games and made it to Torino.

Schuffenhauer retired from bobsledding after the 2006 Torino Games, where he was part of the two-man team that finished 14th. He had two children and a girlfriend, Ruthann Savage, whom he met in 2004, and he felt responsible for them. Supporting a family on the meager money bobsledders get was impossible, and it was time to find a job and settle down in Utah.

But he couldn't give up on the Olympic dream. Savage, a nurse, agreed to support Schuffenhauer as he trained but her income wasn't enough -- the couple were evicted from their house and one of their cars was repossessed after they couldn't make their loan payments.

Even as Shuffenhauer competes in his third Olympic games, he's already planning on ways to make ends meet back home. He plans to find work and take online classes towards a sports science degree.

Read the full story on Shuffenhauer's continued struggles to reach the Olympic dream, visit CNN.com.