by Paul Morin, Army Veteran and Spartan Athlete

While most people were prepping their livers for St Patrick’s Day or trying to finish a vacation, I took my son, and a few fellow Spartans and Team X-TREME members, to the Walter Reed National Medical Center. Our aim was to help get more of our wounded warriors out of the barracks and seeing what is possible.

I spent the next three hours chasing my son, talking to wounded warriors (or adaptive athletes) about what Spartan Race is and what Team X-TREME does, all while admiring the courage and resiliency of the men I met. How can you complain about anything when a soldier who has lost an eye, with severe damage to his face, says “I am doing great today, how are you?”

It was an amazing experience for me as an Army Veteran but as a father it meant even more to see my son there. To watch him lose that initial shyness and just start being a hyper five year old boy. To see the smiles he brought these men as he bounced around, ran into them, asked questions and threw them the t-shirts provided by Team X-TREME.

I was asked why I took my son to a hospital to interact with men who are severely wounded. My first response was that I wanted to teach my son that we are all equal. That potential resides inside each of us and what we do with that defines us. That we are all presented many obstacles in life and how we overcome them defines us. I wanted my son to know these men, and know them as men and not just as those who lost limbs to support our foundations of acceptance and citizenship. And that the look of the soldier who had my son jump in his lap was as priceless as the laughter he caused.

We were there to show them that through Spartan Race and Team X-TREME we can, as a unit and as a family, help them overcome their physical obstacles and start doing activities they would not have imagined. They helped me raise a better child. I think it is a fair trade.

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