A special lady in our newsroom has a special connection to the Wounded Warrior Games held in Colorado Springs, Col. this week.
Her brother is a competitor.
Erica Rush is the producer for KTVB's News at Ten. I asked Erica to write about her feelings toward her brother who is participating in the games. She didn't hesitate to take me up on my request.
Here's one sister's message to her brother:
"To be a participant in the Wounded Warrior Games is more than just being a competitor-- they're survivors. And in the case of my brother, my personal hero.
It was a little more than two years ago, when Capt. Richard Rush was deployed with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines to Afghanistan. Two months into his deployment, he and seven others were hit by a 250 pound IED. One Marine and a British journalist were killed in the explosion. My brother took shrapnel through his throat, shattered a vertebra in his back as well as his right ankle and his right lung collapsed.
Today, he has less than half the size of a normal airway, hindering his breathing and limiting his voice to no louder than a whisper. His other injuries plague him daily, but he's learned to deal with pain and has become a stronger man, mentally and emotionally, caring for his four children, with the help and support of his wife, Mindy.
Last year, Rush participated in the Wounded Warrior Games for the first time.
The games host seven sports with a variety of individual and team events for hundreds of wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Last year he competed in archery, pistol and rifle target shooting. As a Marine, Rush has been a leader and a competitor, which he can showcase during the games.
While the games are a competition between military branches, there's a greater camaraderie among competitors and their families. Organizers not only encourage family and loved ones to come out and support the men and women in uniform, but even cover many of their travel expenses and accommodations. Together, they can share in their accomplishments of the games, as well as their monumental achievements in recovery.
This year, my brother competed for the first time on the recumbent bike. On Tuesday, he finished 5th overall. He will also compete in archery target shooting on Thursday.
To watch my brother succeed and continue to gain his strength is nothing short of amazing. He is truly a hero that put his life on the line, serving his country and protecting the freedom of American people, that we often take for granted.
I feel blessed every day that he is still here with us and look forward to all the amazing things I know he will continue to accomplish."