Our soldiers give their all to protect us, which sometimes, includes limbs. A Towson man is showing the world his battle wounds won't keep him from greatness, though.
Like many service members, Ret. U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Major enlisted to serve his country in the best way he knew how. Less than a year into that deployment, his idea of what he thought his future would be changed drastically.
It happened in an instant. Ryan was ten months into a deployment in Iraq when he stepped on an IED, knocking him into a coma.
The blast took both his legs, and disfigured his hands. What's more, he lost his ability to play football, a sport he played in high school at Towson high. But his painful journey through recovery led him to the University of Maryland's Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute, where he discovered rugby, and is captain of the facility's wheelchair team, known as the Maryland Mayhem.
"It was tough not knowing where my next step was in life, and sports is what what really got me going," Major said.
What really got him going was the Invictus games, a competition involving injured service members from 14 countries. Close to 500 athletes participated.
Major represented Team U.S.A. and took gold in wheelchair rugby and the shot put, and silvers in indoor rowing and in the discus throw. His heft takeaway surprise no one who has worked with him during his rehabilitation.
"He's had a big impact on other patients here, and he's been a mentor to other patients," said Kim Cardosa, a physical therapist at the institute.
Next year, the Invictus Games will take place in Toronto. Major said he'll be there competing again.
And Ryan continues to inspire after reaching many of his recovery goals. To anyone else suddenly finding themselves in a life-altering situation, he said all it takes to find their own 'gold' is bit of imagination.
"It's just like the military, you adapt and overcome," he said, "and here's your product."