Program helps wounded veterans prepare for a triathlon, kindles their fighting spirit

HAMMOND, Ind. — Dozens of injured military veterans reclaimed a piece of their fighting spirit, crossing a finish line this past week.

They came in wheelchairs, braces and prosthetics to do what many of them believed would never be possible: train for a triathlon.

After suffering two traumatic brain injuries in Afghanistan, Marine veteran Juan Cornejo was told he would never walk again. Now, with the help of Dare2Tri military camp, he's training to run, bike and swim.

"This feels like a huge step for me," Cornejo said. "It's proving to me that even though we're hurt, we're not completely out of the game. To me, it's proof that I can and will."

There are currently more than 2 million wounded warriors, many struggling with not just the physical damage but the emotional toll of a radically altered life. Dare2Tri believes a little bit of recovery can be found at a finish line.

"We provide everything they need...the adaptive equipment, hotel, meals and transportation," Dare2Tri's Melissa Stockwell said. "Their only job is to believe it's possible."

Over the last four years, Dare2Tri has paired with Leon's Triathlon to train over 130 wounded warriors. Every one of those veterans has returned home with a finisher's medal around their neck, and newfound confidence in what is still possible.

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