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Warrior Games Airman attributes survival to active lifestyle

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
  • Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
Before a motorcycle accident in 2008, Staff Sgt. Richard Pollock II lived in the gym.

He was a competitive body builder, a lean 235 pounds with only 10 percent body fat.

In August 2008, Sergeant Pollock was on his way to work on his motorcycle when he collided with a car that ran through a stop sign. Sergeant Pollock was traveling 55 miles per hour and upon impact, flew 97 feet from his bike. Everything below his waist -- his pelvis, knees, legs and feet -- was broken.

He was in a coma for three weeks after the accident. After the coma, he was in six different hospitals in six months. All of his broken bones were rebuilt with metal.

"Being a competitive body builder, staying fit, saved my life," he said.

Although he is still recovering from his injuries, Sergeant Pollock continues to stay active. He is one of the wounded, injured and ill Airmen representing the Air Force during the inaugural Warrior Games taking place here May 10 through May 14.

Sergeant Pollock will be competing along with 17 of his team members against participants from the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.

Sergeant Pollock, like many members of the Air Force team, will compete in multiple events during these games. His events include wheelchair basketball, shot put and discus. He will be the only archer representing the Air Force.

He said he first began to play these sports while in therapy at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio. The Center for the Intrepid is a rehabilitation center for amputees and burn victims.

During therapy, Sergeant Pollock said he participated in training camps hosted by specialists from the U.S. Paralympics Committee. Prior to arriving in Colorado Springs for the Warrior Games, he trained in sports similar to those he will be competing in every day.

"We train all the time," he said. "I'm in therapy, that's my job. Athletics put you out of the realm of pain because when you are doing sports you have adrenaline built up and it subsides pain."

"People will say, 'Wow, you're walking a lot better or sooner than I figured,' and that's just stubbornness," he said, noting he is in therapy to walk again.

As he does at the Center for the Intrepid, Sergeant Pollock said he would continue to stay active not only to stay healthy, but also to lead by example for other disabled athletes.

"He has quiet leadership," said Cami Stock, the Air Force team head coach. "He doesn't motivate outwardly as much as the other athletes, but he leads through walking the walk."

Sergeant Pollock said these games are important to show what's available for people with disabilities.

"(These games) bring exposure to the members with disabilities and the sports for disabled veterans," he said. "The whole thing is getting it out there, the more (we) bring exposure to members with disabilities and the sports (we) do, the more the country can get involved."

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