I've received a lot of love and support over the last week since pictures were posted of me running the Tough Mudder. I would like to thank everyone; it's awesome to know that so many care. I would also like to give a shout out to Hoorah to Heroes, team blue, for inviting me along to run with them. This was a life changing experience for me and I feel I should share my story because I want others to feel what I felt that day.
I joined the Army reserves with a few friends in '89 and was activated because of Desert Storm in '90. For some reason they only activated me from my unit and I was transfered to a Greensburg unit to fill a spot. We trained for a month and landed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in early February. Our unit was only in the country for 6 days when a scud missile struck our building and killed many of the people I became friends with as we were sitting around that evening. I awoke in a hospital badly injured and was given an option to amputate my left leg or keep it with little chance of ever regaining use of it. I left it up to the Dr. and had my leg amputated above the knee a month before my 21st birthday. I came home and resumed life, never really dealing with what had happened. I was called a hero, had parades for me, and had a lot of people praising me for what I did. To me, I did not deserve the praise. It bothered me because people died, and I got lucky. The fact that I was only there for 6 days ate at me.
I've carried a lot of pain and anger with me for 24 yrs. Because I didn't deserve all the attention and my friends who didn't make it back are gone and forgotten by many. I've never felt a purpose for my life and my disability up until that race and the day I met my team from Hoorah to Heroes. I was told that I would never run again and I believed it until I saw Noah Galloway, who like me, had lost his leg but had also lost an arm. He was killing it on a tread mill, running! I cried and devoted myself to get in shape and run again. I did, and started running and working out in November of last year. Team H2H convinced me to run Tough Mudder three days before the race. I started out doing it for myself; I wanted to see how tough I really was. At about mile two, I realized it was bigger than just doing it for myself. I was doing it with the help of a great group of people and total strangers were watching and encouraging me. People were inspired by what I was doing and I couldn't let them down. There are people with all kind of obstacles in their life. This was mine, and with the help of others, I was conquering it. Along the way, because I was pushing myself, I was inspiring others, and it filled my soul. It was my opportunity to use my disability to show others that anything is possible, especially with help from your community.
Our country needs heroes now more than ever. We are so divided and self-absorbed that we have lost our sense of community. I want to help change that, and so does Hoorah to Heroes. If I have learned anything from that race it is that there are heroes all around us. We just need to stop and look to see them all. Police, military, fireman, teachers and others... They're definitely not doing it for the money. They do it to help make our community safer, smarter, and to help the less fortunate. I'm proof that anyone can be a hero. You can be a hero! Volunteer. Mow your elderly neighbors grass. Help someone change a flat along the road. Thank a policeman! I guarantee you will receive more satisfaction from that than any paycheck will provide. Find something selfless that will give your life purpose. Do something for the first time every day. Push yourself! It doesn't have to be physical, but rather fulfilling.
I will be joining Hoorah 2 Heroes to spread this sentiment, and will be running, I hope, many races in the future with this team. This is my way to give back, to show that with the help of a community there is no obstacle that can stand in your way. Be a hero. Don't wait. Get out there, and do good to inspire others to do the same. Again, thanks for the love and support, I appreciate you all and it will drive me along the way to keep going. HOORAH!