Veteran SSgt Rico Roman – the Mission to Bring Home Gold in South Korea

 In Veterans

Army Staff Sgt Rico Roman did 3 tours in Iraq. But in February 2007, his vehicle struck an IED, and severely damaged his legs. Now, he is part of the US Olympic Sled Hockey team…and next month will be competing in the Paralympics for the United States. It’s how he continues the mission of serving his country… and to bring home the gold.

“I was running a vehicle checkpoint and I decided to be the lead vehicle back to the patrol base. My vehicle struck the IED and I sustained injuries to both my left and my right leg.” Rico Roman

Even though the doctors saved his legs, one of them did not work properly. His left leg stuck straight out and getting up and down was difficult. So he made the decision to amputate it.

Rico told ABC10 that he didn’t know if he could ride a bike. But Operation Comfort, a group that helps wounded veterans, got him involved with bikes that are propelled by hand pedals. They are also the ones that encouraged him to try sled hockey. Now he loves it.

“I thought it was a sick joke because I didn’t think I could ride a bike, but they have a bike with three wheels and you pedal with your arms. I had so much fun with it.”

He wasn’t interested in sled hockey at first. But after rejecting the idea “about 10 times,” his friends from rehab succeeded in getting him involved. The rest, as they say, is history.

“I was hooked. It was so fast. I think what made me stick with it the most was that it gave me that brotherhood back. It gave me that camaraderie and sense of teamwork.”

Now, Rico Roman is a strong athlete in paralympic competitions, although it took him a while to get there. He didn’t make the team at first, but came back again to earn a spot on the team. He helped Team USA bring home the gold in the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, and is now preparing for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. On January 23,  Team USA beat Japan in the  Para International Tournament.

Rico Roman is only one of many wounded warriors who have moved on from debilitating injuries to join adaptive sports and become exceptional at them. He is a father, husband, brother, and “proud American.” Best wishes, Rico!

 

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