VA Polytrauma Patient Completes 5k Race

Categories: Highlights

In February, Freedom Alliance hosted 113 wounded service members from the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital Polytrauma Center to an unforgettable steak dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Tampa, Florida. U.S. Army Sergeant Joel Tavera was one of our guests.

For the past two years Sgt. Tavera has been at the Polytrauma center relearning basic life skills like standing, walking, and talking. In 2008 inside the Tallil air base in southeastern Iraq several enemy rockets struck his Humvee, only Sgt. Tavera and one other soldier survived. Tavera lost sight in both of his eyes, his right leg, four fingers on his left hand, and suffer very serious head trauma and critical burns to 60 percent of his body.

Miraculously, Sgt. Tavera is surpassing expectations in his recovery as he recently completed the Gasparilla 5-kilometer race in Tampa, Florida in less than two hours.

“Joel Tavera couldn’t see the people cheering for him as he took the last steps of the 5-kilometer Gasparilla Distance Classic race Saturday morning, but he could hear them. He couldn’t see the smiles and tears from his friends, but he knew they were there.

None of the thousands of other competitors on race day could have known what he overcame to get to that moment. They could see the carbon fiber prosthetic limb below his right knee, but so what? People can have artificial limbs and still compete.”  Click here to continue reading Sgt. Tavera’s courageous story as published in The Tampa Tribune …

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