26 Marathons Down, Rio's the Goal for Vet Amputee
It is estimated that almost 50,000 U.S. Service Members have been injured in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Loosing legs, arms, parts of their bodies and pieces of their mind, veterans return fractured every day. And the road to recovery can be a long one, filled with potholes, detours, accidents and black ice. Many don't make it past the initial transition. It is estimated that 22 American Veterans of post 9/11 wars commit suicide every day. Such a large number of emotionally, physically and psychologically distraught individuals have today, one more role model to find a source of strength and inspiration.
Freddie de Los Santos, a special operations staff sergeant, who lost his leg deployed in Afghanistan when a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) exploded near him found it difficult to rebuild a life upon returning home injured. “I had suicidal thoughts. I just wanted to end my life because I was not the same. It used to break my heart every time my kids used to see me,” he says.
Achilles International, an organization which brings disabled runners and volunteers together for mainstream races. “It was part of my rehab. It became my way of life. And I love it. It has been the most rewarding experience, being able to compete despite my disability,” De Los Santos says.
Freddie just finished his 26th marathon and is now training for the U.S. Paralympics team and hoping to go to Rio and compete. To overcome such obstacles is a measure of strength and determination. De Los Santos added, “I will be so excited to go to Rio, not just because it’s Rio, but also because I will be able to look back and say, ‘Wow, this is how far I have come since the day I got injured.’ That will be the greatest achievement ever.”Other Articles
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