Life is like a wave. You can’t change the way it breaks, just the way you ride it.
Five years ago Lance Corporal Jorge lost his legs and five fingers when he stepped on an explosive while serving with 3rd Battalion 5th Marines in Afghanistan.
A quiet but caring man, Jorge’s friends think a lot of him. One of these friends, a young Marine named Reece, told Freedom Alliance about a dream Jorge had. This dream was for the San Diego native to be able to enjoy his favorite water sport again—surfing!
Reece asked Freedom Alliance if something could be done.
Since his accident, Jorge had gotten back on a surfboard, but his disability made movement and control difficult. He needed a motorized surfboard, but the price tag hindered him.
A couple weeks ago, Freedom Alliance showed up in San Diego to surprise Jorge with a special gift.
The city’s Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse heard about our intent and opened a private dining room to us. Staff came in on their day off to take care of Jorge and 30-some others for a Freedom Alliance troop appreciation luncheon.
Our surfer had no idea why he was there, and he was quite nervous at first. We wanted to keep his stress as low as possible, so we invited only his friends and other local injured service members to foster a feeling of closeness and family.
Some of his buddies got up to say a little about Jorge, including Reece, who described his desire to surf again. Then Tom Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance said that this dream had become a reality.
A motorized surfboard was brought out, and our guest of honor, who hates being the center of attention, was all smiles at the presentation. It was clearly a defining moment for Jorge, in which a pastime from his former life, before the amputations, was possible again.
His surfing instructor, Betty, explained that Jorge had been discouraged by the challenge of getting out in the water to catch the waves. With his new board, this won’t be a problem anymore.
“You have no idea what this means to Jorge,” she said. “He’s never this talkative, and surfing has shown him he can have a life again.”
As soon as the water warms up, Jorge will be ready to catch the waves. And Betty, who will be beside him, said this wouldn’t be possible without the gift from Freedom Alliance.
“This is why I teach surfing,” she said, “to make a difference in lives like Jorge.”
Another Wounded Warrior who attended the dinner said, “It was an honor to see one of our own receive the precious gift of hope. I know some may think it’s just a surfboard, but to [Jorge] … it meant so much more.”
That was evident from all the happy faces in the room … including Jorge’s.
All of us at Freedom Alliance can’t be more pleased for him, and we eagerly await the first reports and photographs of Jorge catching the Big One.
Since we can’t change what happened to him across the ocean, we can at least give him a ride out from the shore.