I graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2002 and shortly thereafter began SEAL training. I was a deployable member of the Naval Special Warfare community from 2003-2009. In Sep 2009 I was injured in Afghanistan, resulting in the amputation of both legs above the knee. I conducted physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from 2009-2011. In 2010 I joined the US Paralympic biathlon/cross country ski team and competed in the IPC Nordic World Championships in Russia in April 2011. I will move to Colorado, staying on active duty, in order to train for the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. Working with Karen Morrison on my swimming technique while in Ketchum, Idaho was a great learning experience. She improved my stroke tremendously and I feel much more aware of what my body is doing and needs to do as I move through the water. I’ve always enjoyed being in the water and now, after my injury, more than ever.
I was born with the athletic nature in my blood. I started playing football in the 4th grade, competed in my first bike race in the 6th grade and set records in track and field in high school. After high school I joined the Army and went to noncommissioned officer school to reach the rank of sergeant E5. I was then sent to Vietnam as part of the first cavalry E co 25th, where I was placed on a 5 man recon team during a mission I was wounded to medivacked out. After the Army I established a family and career but never lost of love for outdoor activities. I have since raced in national grade rode races, cross-country skied and ran 11 marathons among many other competitive activities. The ability to do the things I love was taken from me in the fall on 2008 when I was in a bike wreck that left me paralyzed. After two 8-hour surgeries and almost 3 years of rehabilitation I am able to walk again. My accident affected the upper portion of my spine, which has caused my arms to become stiff and un-flexible. Since being given the opportunity to work with Karen at AquAbility my arms have started to loosen up and it has allowed me to get my arms and legs working together at the same time. It has been such an experience to be in the pool and get the motion back in my arms. Swimming makes me feel great and will be a lifetime sport for me.
I was born January 6th, 1982 in Guadalajara, Mexico. My parents were poor for the most part of my child hood. We lived in the makeshift second story of my grandmother’s house. This second story consisted of only one room in which the dining table and the sleeping beds were almost next to each other.
In my parent’s pursuit to afford a better living, both of them decided to leave me and my sisters behind while they embarked in a journey to Grand Rapids, Michigan. My sisters and I were left behind in the care of my grandmother that afforded her living in the door to door pesticide business which she had developed herself and at that time we were helping her perform.
After one year of staying behind, my parents finally came back and were able to take us with them. When we got to the United States my sisters and I did not know how to speak or write any English, however we were able to attend school right away.
My parents gradually started to earn more money and were able to afford a house and at the age of sixteen I finally had my own room. Some of my parent’s differences and the inability of my father to put his Mexican engineering degree to work for him in the United States ultimately led to my parent’s divorce when I was seventeen.
Without a father and with a very emotionally tired and depressed mother in the eve of the end of my high school years in 1999 I decided to join the United States Marine Corps.
Within the first years of my military career, I discovered responsibility, discipline, and purpose and I was sold. I was one of the best new Marines my command had ever seen. I won multiple personal achievement medals and moved through the ranks fairly quickly.
I re- enlisted twice when I was in the military, held many key responsibilities within my command, and was deployed to Iraq four times for a total of almost two and a half years spent deployed overseas while in combat operations.
In June 2008, while riding my motorcycle back to the military base I was stationed, I lost control and crashed against a guard rail in the road ultimately leaving me with the inability to move and feel my right dominant arm. I underwent three very invasive surgeries to repair my right arm which along with the recovery phase and physical therapy lasted a total of three years and ultimately failed. Throughout the duration of those years my arm was constantly in a very large and bothersome sling. Finally, in December of 2011 my doctors suggested to have my arm amputated shoulder height to which I accepted.
In February of 2012, while attending physical therapy, one of the therapists recommended to get in contact with Robert Rosser, one of the U.S. Biathlon paralympic coaches, to see if I could find recovery aid in his program. I got in contact with Robert Rosser and he invited me to an event in Lake Placid, New York in which he thought me along with other coaches the basics of the adaptive biathlon, and cross country skiing events. All of the coaches agreed that I had natural talent in the sport and asked me to approach organizations to help me train and compete in future events.
My ultimate goal of my training, and with the help of many organizations is to reach the highest level in my sport in the Winter Paralympics in Russia. My present goal is to overcome my disability and reach success while working hard towards something worth experiencing.
More recently, while training in Sun Valley for biathlon, I came in contact with Karen Morrison, the director of the AquAbility program. After spending one day under Karen’s world class swimming instruction I was able to swim again after not being able to do it in three years.
I strongly believe that the AquAbility program has helped me reach a new plateau in my recovery progress and has sparked a new fire within me that was lost along with my arm. When I look back once I have reached my goals, I will consider Karen and her program a direct contributor to the completion of my achievements, and will always be grateful for it.