One more friend we met is Atzel. Atzel lost his leg at the ankle this past year in an accident at work. He got his prosthetic leg just 20 days before the Endeavor Games. He and three of his friends drove 22 hours from California to compete and meet the other athletes. Isn't that incredible!! He left just a couple hours after his amazing race to drive back to California!
Monday, June 15, 2009
The Athletes- Our Heroes
The most significant moments of the Endeavor Games were meeting the athletes, hearing their stories, and seeing them compete. There were a large number of veterans at the Games who lost limbs in the Iraq war. It was deeply moving to see them there, successfully living a life so drastically altered from the one they knew before. Their camaraderie is intimate and unique and we felt privileged to look on as they encouraged one another to achieve new physical feats.
Remember the athlete we met on the first day? His name is Kortney Clemons. We got to know him a little more throughout the weekend. His story is fills us with deep gratitude and admiration. Here it is in his words:
“We were on our way back to camp when we came across an overturned U.S. Humvee. There was a wounded soldier half inside, half outside. We got him onto a stretcher and at the guard rail, crossing over the median; there was an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). The two soldiers who were assisting me were killed instantly, as was one other who was standing by us. I knew I was injured pretty badly.” But it wasn’t until he woke to find he had been transported to a military hospital in Germany that he discovered that one leg was gone above the knee and his other had been hit by shrapnel. “I had to get a lot of surgery,” he says and a lot of vascular work Kortney recovered at Brooke Army Center over a period of ten months.
Kortney is now at the Olympic Training Center training for the 2012 Paralympics. Kortney won the gold in the 100m at the Endeavor Games. One of the most special moments was when he later saw Elias and gave him his gold medal. Elias wore it so proudly!