June 1, 2007, - 9:46 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Most Americans are saddened by the physical sacrifices made by so many of our brave men and women serving in Iraq. Many return home with so many body parts missing and other physical maiming.
But it is uplifting to see so many of our recently disabled, young veterans performing amazing feats and overcoming extreme obstacles.
On Sunday, Andy Hatcher, Rich Ingram, and Melissa Stockwell–all amputee veterans of Iraq–will compete in the Accentrue Escape From Alcatraz triathlon:
Andy Hatcher ran his first marathon seven months before being deployed to Iraq in September 2004. Losing his right leg in combat three months later could have ended his running career, but Hatcher is still going strong.
Hatcher, 23, of Alexandria, Va., will compete in the Accenture Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco on Sunday. He will be part of a relay team with two other Iraq war veterans who lost limbs.
Rich Ingram, 23, of Dahlonega, Ga., who lost his left arm in 2005, will bike 18 miles. Melissa Stockwell, 27, of Chicago, who lost her left leg in 2004, will swim 1 1/2 miles. Hatcher will run 8 miles.
The race worked with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to involve disabled veterans and to organize a clinic for physically challenged people on Saturday.
“When you bounce back from (losing a leg), it shows you who you are,” Hatcher says. “People like CAF provide you with the opportunity to realize that life’s not over.” . . .
The athletes say the attitude and strength they gained while serving in Iraq helped them recover from their wounds and train.
“I don’t think of myself as challenged,” Ingram says. “You just go out there and have a strong mind.”
Easier said than done. But very inspiring. These three amputees are more athletic than most Americans who have all of their limbs intact.
Tags: 1 1/2, Alexandria, Andy Hatcher, Andy Hatcher Hatcher, Challenged Athletes Foundation, Dahlonega, Debbie Schlussel Most, Iraq, Melissa Stockwell, Rich Ingram, San Francisco, Virginia