Military Program Using Sports To Help Wounded

Balboa Warrior Athlete Program Run At Naval Medical Center San Diego

A program run by Naval Medical Center San Diego is using sports to help wounded service members in their recovery.

The Balboa Warrior Athlete Program is designed to help members of the military with their physical and emotional issues.

"This means everything to me," said Marine Cpl. Gabriel Martinez. "This is my best way to recovery."

On Tuesday, Martinez used a hand cycle on his 15-mile bike ride. He lost both legs to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day.

Fellow Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Riley also lost both legs to an IED in Afghanistan, and was also riding a bike around Fiesta Island on Tuesday.

Riley and Martinez share their experiences, and Riley added, "We're always pushing each other to go al little bit harder, a little bit faster."

It's a way to stay in shape, but perhaps even more, a way to be around others who are in a similar situation.

"Whether it's cycling, or in a wheelchair, or getting around, driving, whatever it is, it's helpful to have a couple of brains working on solving the problems," Riley said.

The healing is emotional as well as physical.

"The world is not staring at you and pointing at you," said Marla Knox, recreation therapist at Naval Medical Center San Diego. "They feel very comfortable because their buddy next to them, their fellow Marine next to them, understands what they're going through and it's not so lonely."

Martinez said when he has a day when he feels a little down he gets a boost and appreciates what he has.

"I got my eyes," he said. "I can see. I can hear. I can talk. I got my hands."

His wife, Kayla, sees that the program has helped her husband.

"I think all the guys out here have really positive attitudes," she said. "But just giving them confidence is the best thing this program can give them."

The Balboa Warrior Athlete Program offers a wide variety of activities, from golf and tennis and surfing to yoga and even salsa dancing.

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