(originally by WOTN)The
stuff nightmares are made of…….waking up and realizing that you have
no leg(s). Unfortunately, this is a reality for many of
our wounded warriors.
One thing they are guaranteed (I believe)
is a replacement limb, a prosthetic leg that will allow them to stand,
to walk again. First though, they have to heal from the
wounds, survive multiple surgeries and then "learn" to walk again.
Marine has taken that a step further. He wants them to
have the "option" to learn to run again. Why? There
was a day, around 7 years ago, when it was thought by some doctors that
"he would never walk again". The physical therapist handed
him a squeeze ball to get started in his recovery.
him walk…..no, they "knew" he would never walk again. Why
him false hope. Boy were they ever wrong…..
Refusing to accept that squeeze ball,
refusing to accept the one doc's prognosis for his future that of a
paraplegic, this Marine started working his way back into being able to
pass a PFT. That was his ticket back into active duty,
back with his men. Back where he was going to be.
first he had to RE-learn how to walk. Three months after
arriving home from the hospital and with
two surgeries behind him, this Marine was walking. Another
month passed and this Marine was back running again. At
the ten month mark, he deployed to Thailand with his men.
still had one final hurdle to overcome. That dang PFT. It
was his ticket that would allow him to roam freely around the world
with his Marines, actively seeking out the hot spots!
didn’t just pass that PFT; he ran 3 miles in 22:39, did 13 pull-ups and
in two minutes he
did 100 crunches, to score 237. He smoked that PFT with a “young man’s
first class 237 score. All less than a year after two surgeries and
being told he would never walk again.
His wife was
vigilant when it came to her Marine. Once an active duty
Marine herself, she knew their temperament.
fought with all the people that tried to medically retire him when he
could not say it himself. I was amazed at the people that would want him
to sign papers, make decisions, and explain things to him when he was
on morphine, etc."
"His memory from July 23,
2003 to October 2003 is fragmented to say the least. He remembers some
things but has no time line reference for them. For the most part, that
time is a big blur for him."
me, I remember every detail. The more
horrible…the more they stick in my mind.”
Jonathan hadn’t recovered the way he did, I would have had to move
us……to someplace. I would have had all the medical support I needed
but there would not have been allowances for ramps, vehicle
modifications, etc. The United States is our home but beyond that…we
have no home."
I would have just plopped
us somewhere and we would have been the “family that moved in with the
"I know lots of Marines that
do not have reliable families or they are the support for the family.
Where do they go? And where do they get help from?"
want to know what my connection to this particular Marine is then you
can read a bit more here.
is now a MGySgt and has trained in at least 4 continents, possibly 5 as
he has prepared for his marathons. Yes I said marathons,
because he first determined that he wanted to run a marathon way back
when he was told about life
as a paraplegic. Heck, why just learn to run when you can
run in the Marine Corps Marathon, and so he did. He wasn't alone that
first year, his son and his wife also completed that very same marathon.
the Marines upped the ante a bit on physical fitness and created a Combat Fitness Test that ALL Marines had to pass. I inquired
about it, and found that there was some concern on the part of my friend
in dealing with this test. Check out the x-ray here. (Think
about the requirements for passing this test with that in your back.) It
was never a question about passing it, more a question of how well he
would do. Jon once told me that he has never asked his men
to do something that he himself was unable to do. Obviously
he leads from the front! He passed with no problems!
past year has been harder in many ways. I know that his
training schedule has been interrupted
several times. You see, he isn't parked behind a desk
somewhere. Active duty means just that for Jon. Trust
me, he is very "active" and no matter where he is at, he trains for
that upcoming marathon.
He runs in the cold, the rain, the heat. He
runs on cement, sand, asphalt, rocks. He likes to start
his day off with a run while most of us are not even close to being
aware that dawn is breaking in an hour or two.
year that Jon has
run a marathon, this will be year #3, he has set two goals for himself. One
is personal (his time to finish in) and the other is monetary
(fundraising). Last year, his personal goal had to be set
aside while he was actually running the marathon. One of
his team members was having a problem and didn't think he could continue
on. Jon sent the rest of the team ahead to finish. Staying
back with his teammate, he completed the marathon in a slightly slower
than expected time. I received a text message with his
time, and inquired about it. I was told "….no man left
goal is to raise enough money to possibly purchase a prosthetic running
leg, a cheetah leg, for a warrior who paid a high price for defending
our freedoms. All donations are given to the Injured
Marine Semper Fi Fund and they ultimately will decide where the money
goes. When Jon found out a friend was injured in an IED
blast, losing his legs, I suddenly realized how very personal this
years' fundraising had become. Jon knows how important
the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is, what they can do for his fellow brothers in arms,
how they help fill the gaps in.
Perhaps you are asking yourself what a
"cheetah leg" looks like. Maybe you have even attending a
race or two as a spectator or a runner and have seen one before. They
are rather unique looking, and yes the name comes from a cheetah, the
fastest animal on land. A cheetah is known to run at
speeds up to 70 miles an hour. While I doubt anyone wearing
a cheetah leg will achieve those speeds, they most certainly have been
able to make it into the para-Olympic trials.
for the sake of verification…..check out the cover of the May 2009 newsletter from Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Look
close, because on the cover you will see several pictures of TJ and
Merlin. Merlin is in the upper half, while TJ is shown
carrying another Marine over the finish line at the Marine Corps
Marathon and an older photo from his hospital bed.
quite sure Jon grits his teeth each and every time I write something
about his injuries. I know for a fact that these guys have
moved on and are not now nor ever have been looking for press time,
UNLESS it somehow benefits their
fellow brothers in arms. For them, they will talk about
what happened but not in the course of normal conversation.
look at page 8 in the latest Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund newsletter (July 2010), you will see that only 7% of ALL funds are
spent in areas not directly supporting the wounded. A mere
5% is spent on administrative expenses and only 2% goes towards
fundraising. Pretty amazing return on your donation dollars I would say. Not too many
companies can claim that high of a percent of funds going to the
Bottom line? We need to get the $'s rolling
in for Jon's donation drive. If you read about Jon at
his donation site, you will see that he is not asking
for a huge chunk of your money. Nope! He
only asks this…..
"No more than you can afford and no less
than you desire. Every dollar counts, so if you can only afford a few
dollars, we are grateful. If you or your business can afford hundreds or
thousands, that will get us all to the goal quicker."
consider helping out in 2 very
different ways. 1: Make a
donation and 2: Spread the word.
you in advance for your donation, because if you have stuck with me
this far through the article, I am betting you will find a way to drop a
few dollars in the pot to help out Jons'
fundraiser for this
Somehow, in 2008, NAPA Auto Parts came across one of my
articles about Jon and his efforts. They made a very
generous donation boosting him up and over his goal
for that year. They
literally delivered their check into Jon's hand the day before the race.
Hope, Faith, and Determination