OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- A local veteran is preparing to compete in this weekend's grueling Ironman competition in Oceanside.
However, his reason for pushing his limits is a bit unusual. Before Leason joined the fight for our freedom, he wanted to be a pro athlete.
"I've always loved athletics," Scott Leason said.
He could not make the cut, so he joined the Navy.
"I was a signalman, which is a visual communicator," Leason said.
He was the eyes on the ship to communicate with other ships.
"It was the best thing I did in my life," he added.
When he got out, he was not sure where he was headed.
"The job I had in the Navy was not something that transferred out to the real world.”
In 1993, he took a job at Circle K. One day, he was the victim of an armed robbery.
"I had a customer at the counter. Two gang members burst in the store. They were pointing guns at me.”
They demanded money.
"I went to open the drawer, and he reached across. I stepped back and put my hands up. And the next thing you know there is a big white flash, and I hear the guy yelling that he's shot."
He was worried about one thing.
"(I was) thinking I'll never see my kids again," he said.
He was shot in the face. The bullet blew through one temple, out the other and took his sight with it.
"I was just unsure about future.”
Leason joined the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which helps people with disabilities adapt with technology and training. Now, just name the sport, and he does it. He will compete with a guide at the Ironman Competition. He will run 13 miles, swim one and bike for 56.
His personal freedom means even more since that 1993 shooting, which happened on Independence Day.
"They tried to take my independence, but I have gained my independence back," he said.
Leason is competing to raise money for Operation Rebound, which is under the CAF umbrella, because the organization has given so much to him.
You can learn more about him here.