EL PASO, Texas (Army News Service, June 15, 2015) -- When fifth grader and Boy Scout Stefan Leroy watched the World Trade Center towers fall during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he knew then he wanted to serve his country.
"We really saw the world change, and then thinking about service, commitment to yourself, your community and your country, the Army's kind of a natural place to go from there," said Sgt. Stefan Leroy, a cavalry scout, who now serves at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Maryland.
Years later, Leroy found himself carrying a fellow Soldier to a medevac helicopter, June 7, 2012. That Soldier had stepped on an improvised explosive device, or IED. While helping to save his comrade, Leroy himself stepped on an IED. He lost his left leg above the knee and his right leg below the knee.
Throughout his more than 40 surgeries, Leroy focused on maintaining his weight and fitness because he said amputees can have trouble keeping their weight in check. His sport of choice was hand cycling.
"It was a big one for me because it helped me maintain my weight," he said. "It took me awhile to get on my legs. I had my last surgery six or seven months ago and that really was when I was able to walk all the time from then on."
Leroy said adaptive reconditioning and adaptive sports through hand cycling and wheelchair basketball helped him maintain being an athlete until he gained confidence with his new running legs.
During the Army Trials, Leroy earned a bronze medal in the men's 1,500 men's classified and a bronze medal in the men's hand cycle. He will represent the Army Team on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 19-28.
Throughout the games, wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will compete in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
Leroy will compete in running, hand cycling, swimming, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
"I'm looking forward to representing the Army and having a great time," he said.
He said the Department of Defense Warrior Games is an important program.
"There are a good number of disabled athletes in the Paralympics, or who are training for the Paralympics, who started out at the Warrior Games or in adaptive programs in the military," Leroy said. "The military's offered them the programs to better themselves. They've gone from a debilitating injury or illness and done something fantastic with it."
Paralympics may be in his future down the road but with his first Warrior Games looming, Leroy said he just wants to focus on it for now and continue to be motivated by those around him.