Wounded Warriors push themselves at Mini-Triathlon
June 19, 2009
- Wounded Warriors completed the Center for the Intrepid 2nd Annual Memorial Day Mini-Triathlon May 22
- The non-competitive event, consists of a 500-meter swim, 10-mile bicycle ride and a two-mile run
- Sgt. 1st Class Neal Boyd, a left leg, below-the-knee amputee, stayed motivated to complete the event
- Wounded Warriors take their rehabilitation to the next level
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Warriors, visiting Canadian soldiers and a seven year-old named Cody completed the Center for the Intrepid 2nd Annual Memorial Day MiniTry, May 22, with one goal in mind: to take their rehabilitation to the next level.
The non-competitive event, which consists of a 500-meter swim, 10-mile bicycle ride and a two-mile run, followed by a community barbecue and field events, drew more than 100 participants to the post Outdoor Aquatic Center.
Participants included Soldiers wounded during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom treated at Brooke Army Medical Center, a representative from Balboa Naval Medical Center and soldiers from Canada.
"The event celebrates the heart of the warriors by exposing them to different sports as a way to get them involved," said Maj. Stuart Campbell, officer-in-charge of CFI physical therapy and MiniTry coordinator.
"It keeps them motivated," he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Neal Boyd, a left leg, below-the-knee amputee with nerve damage in his right leg, stayed motivated to complete the event. Supported by a cane, Boyd accomplished his longest walk ever, despite down pouring rain.
"I did well," Boyd said, wiping his face. "It's good to do this event with amputees to encourage them that they can do it too."
"I knew that he could do it," said his wife, Joyce Boyd. "It was a good challenge."
When Boyd began the two-mile walk, his wife pushed a wheelchair in case he got tired, and their daughter, Angelete Boyd tagged along for moral support. But, when the rain appeared, Joyce and Angelete went for cover, and Neal continued on, step by step.
"With the right mindset, the MiniTry revealed a lot of my goals, and let me know where I stand with my leg strength," said Boyd. "Having my family with me was motivating and encouraging along the way."
Campbell said the MiniTry has a two-fold purpose. "It gives the CFI staff members the chance to see how far the warriors have come functionally, and the warriors experience the staff in a non-clinical way," Campbell said. "Warriors have fun and see what they can do."
"I never thought I could have finished," said Staff Sgt. Juan Amaris, a burn patient. "I'm excited. It pushed me."
Two days before the event, Amaris received a specially outfitted bike, provided by Operation Comfort, a non-profit organization focused on helping wounded Soldiers who are rehabilitating.
"I pushed hard out and back on the first leg, thinking this was easy," he said. "But, then I saw people coming back at me saying you gotta go back for another loop."
This time Amaris paced himself, because he still had the swim and bike events to go. Both events, he said he did well, having swum before he was injured. But, cycling was all together new. Now, he's looking forward to the MS 150 Ride in October.
Joining the Boyds' enthusiasm was Barbara Golden and her husband 1st Sgt. Bobby Golden, who were equally proud of his MiniTry accomplishments. He completed the bike event in 32 minutes and the walk portion, rolling on knobby tires in a wheelchair for another 32 minutes.
The first sergeant, who has spinal injuries, was in good physical health before he was injured.
"I loved PT and participated in 10Ks, marathons and Death Marches," said Bobby, who's five months ahead in his recovery. "This is just another part of life for me to get used to.
"Like rowing, it's another chink in the chain to get better on a daily basis. I got another year to be back where I was," he said. "By then I will be walking, it may be funny looking, but I'll be walking."
Summing up the MiniTry, Sgt. 1st. Class Ireshekia Henry, who participated last year, said "Don't focus on what you've lost, but what you still have."
Henry, a left, below-the-knee amputee said, "This experience has helped me to overcome some of my fears, giving me a new outlook on life to be open and try new things. Recently, I tried scuba diving and waterskiing. Nothing is impossible."