Chicago Veteran Represents United States at 2016 Paralympics Games

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The Call

Marco de la Rosa is a Marine veteran who has a special talent when it comes to competitive shooting. In fact he has won countless awards at air pistol tournaments for disabled athletes. He always had the desire to compete at a world level. He had his goals set on being able to make the team for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

However this dream was fast-forwarded when he got a special call.

It was National Paralympic coach Bob Foth on the line.

He asked if De la Rosa would like to go to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Paralympics Games.

De la Rosa was bewildered and confused.

He asked Foth,

“As a spectator?”

Foth was happy to reply,

“No…As a competitor”.

Without a second thought, the veteran eagerly accepted the initiation. Today he is set to board his flight for Rio.

De la Rosa happily shared,

“I’m still in shock”.

“The first person I called was my mother. Everybody is excited for me”.

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A Long Road

Unfortunately De la Rosa had high hopes of sharing this special news with his father. However De la Rosa’s father passed away in May.

De la Rosa’s hopes to achieve this dream arrives years after the incident that left him paralyzed from the waist down. It was in 1993 that De la Rosa, a Marine corporal had tried to stop a burglary outside of Camp Pendleton. During the incident, he was shot in the back. The bullet that struck his back permanently damaged his spinal cord.

After his injury, De la Rosa struggled with depression and drinking.

He finally visited his local Veterans Administration center for aid. His interest in adaptive sports immediately took hold. He found it to be a perfect kind of therapy.

Jose Laguna, a recreational therapist, worked with De la Rosa. After little training, Laguna recognized De la Rosa’s special talent.

“We’re so proud and we’re all cheering him on,” Laguna said. “I hope we follow Marco all the way to gold.”

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