NEW PRAGUE, Minn. (WCCO) — An international sporting competition is coming to London this fall featuring athletes who’ve overcome the biggest odds.
All of the athletes bear the battle scars of war, they are the sick or injured soldiers from 14 nations.
In his parent’s New Prague garage, Chad Lukkes tuned up his racing bike and his body.
“It’s gotten me back into sports,” he said, “and has opened my eyes to what I can still do with my injuries.”
On March 15, 2007, the Air Force technical sergeant was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. It was his second deployment to the battlefield and the blast left him with severe brain, shoulder, arm and leg injuries.
“It went through the front of the vehicle and out the driver’s door,” Lukkes said. “Then we rolled over, and that’s where I sustained my injuries.”
It took 13 surgeries to repair the damage, in addition to the seven years of on-going physical and occupational therapies.
The process left Lukkes fighting depression until this past January. That’s when his world and outlook suddenly changed.
“I got to go to Hawaii with the Air Force Wounded Warriors to show what I could still do,” Lukkes said.
Turns out, what he can do is still quite a lot. He’s now training for London’s Invictus Games for wounded vets, which take place on the Olympic Grounds from Sept. 10 – 14.
Lukkes expects to be competing in a number of events, including track, cycling, seated volleyball and possibly archery.
His wife, Kateri, can clearly see the huge difference his athletic participation is having.
“He looks forward to things,” she said. “He’s excited, you can see this little fire in him. It’s helping him motivate and get out and do things.”
After a casual ride with his son, Kaden, Lukkes heads to country roads for more vigorous training. He spends hours each day working out and riding bike.
It’s clear that his dedication to recovery is proof that the battle to overcome hardship can be the hardest fight of all.
“My favorite feeling is adaptivity,” he said. “You can adapt to anything.”
If you would like to help Lukkes defray the costs of his training and competitions, donations are being accepted by:
Mark & Mary Lukkes
611 Lexington Ave North
New Prague, MN 56071
For more information on the U.S. Air Force Wounded Warriors program, click here.