Fundraiser planned for wounded warrior Capt. Derek Herrera

Funds to go toward battery-powered exoskeleton

CORONADO, Calif. - It has been nearly a year since Capt. Derek Herrera was leading a patrol in Afghanistan when shots rang out.  

"We were doing village stability in Helmand Province when I was shot during a fire fight," he said.

That bullet went through his shoulder and into his spinal cord leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.  

Herrera is still on active duty with MARSOC, Marines Special Operations Capable, an elite unit within the Marine Corps and he wants to remain there, at least in a staff position

"I have a goal to one day walk again," he said.

To help him get there, Francis and Diana Sparagna, who own the Firehouse Bar and Grill in Coronado, are hosting a fundraiser in the hopes of generating enough money to get a revolutionary machine by Re-Walk, a battery-powered exoskeleton.  

"It's an expensive machine but this is what he needs to keep him in the military," said Diana Sparagna, a co-owner of the restaurant.  

The device is considered experimental and is not covered by insurance.  

"It would allow me to look people in the eye again and not be in a chair 24-7," Herrera said.  

The fundraiser will be held at the restaurant on Orange Avenue June 8.

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