My dad is eighty years old. When he was young, he remembers well the sacrifices our country made during war. As a fourteen-year old kid, he’d go around the neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, collecting rubber that could be recycled for plane tires. When he was fifteen years old, this city boy worked on a farm in the summer because there was a labor shortage. Everyone chipped in and pulled together to help the troops.
Today we’re at war. But life goes on here pretty much as usual. Yet our soldiers make big sacrifices. They’re coming home with traumatic brain injuries, missing limbs, and post-traumatic stress.
I freelance for a wonderful rehab hospital called Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation. For the past few years, I’ve seen firsthand the hard work that is required to overcome the effects of these injuries. They give so much of themselves for the opportunity to regain their strength and continue to serve their country.
So when NAS Sports and the Challenged Athletes Foundation sent out a letter to Ironman California 70.3 participants like me to join Operation Rebound, I knew I wanted to give back – to recognize their service, their long rehabilitation, and their will to be athletes again. After all, only a few short years ago, these men and women enjoyed the simple pleasures of playing baseball or basketball, snowboarding with their friends, and biking around town.
I’ve committed to raise $1000 by March 14th. I hope to raise much more than that – those guys/gals deserve it. It’s a real honor. I’ll wear a Team Operation Rebound uniform, store my gear by a special rack in the transition area, and start behind the women pros. Okay, the last part scares the lycra/spandex pants off of me. I feel like I’m going to be released in the aquatic version of the running of the bulls. Only a few minutes will stand between me and rabid age-groupers, vying for their Kona qualifying spots. But that little, humungous detail was not enough to deter me from raising money for this cause. (Though I think I’d be willing to bribe the officials for a chance to start with my own age group.)
I’d really appreciate it if you’d help support Team Operation Rebound. Click on the link at the top or right-hand side of this blog. Every little bit helps – believe me. High-tech running prosthetics are very expensive. Learning to swim when you lack a limb (or limbs) requires special coaching. And handcycles can cost upwards of $2,500. But with our help, these soldiers can enjoy being active again. And I'll cross the finish line of my first half Ironman knowing that I not only made the distance, but a real difference.