By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – From 2006 to 2007, Mike Simon served in Iraq. His life changed forever when he was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, suffering a head injury.

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After the blast, Mike’s wife Marno noticed a change in her husband.

“He was able to call home once a week for about twenty minutes, started making really odd comments,” Marno said.

It wasn’t until Mike returned home that they learned how bad the damage was.

“Some shrapnel had gone in his ear, so he had uranium actually embedded into his skin this whole time,” she said.

Marno says after a physical at the VA, Mike’s condition worsened.

“By May of ‘08, I had delivered the ultimatum and said, ‘Either you need to call the VA or you need to call somebody – but something’s wrong.’ And then we went in and began our journey to find out that it was a brain tumor,” she said.

Doctors found a frontal lobe brain tumor that took up half of Mike’s brain. During surgery to remove it, he had a stroke.

Mike had to re-learn how to balance, think and even read. He credits his recovery to the VA and the two forms of unique rehab he went through

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“It gave me a reason, you know, one of the reasons to live and start the new normal again. Start doing things again,” Mike said.

Mike had a physical and mental breakthrough when he participated in the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Colorado. It showed him he could still have an active life.

“Now I’ve been going four years and it’s helped me set goals,” he said,

Mike was then inspired to make a production plan for a company that sells barbeque sauce made by Marno’s aunt and uncle.

“They sell it like crazy in their mason jars, so I said ‘Why don’t we just see about maybe marketing it,” he said.

Eighteen months later, Triple Crown Gourmet BBQ Sauce was born, and had to be sold to a company that could keep up with the demand.

Now Mike has new goals, like going back to Colorado as an instructor to share what he’s learned about life and how to live it.

“Find a reason, which I believe I’ve found. We’re warriors. And you got to carry on and drive on,” he said.

Mike and Marno are up for a new adventure and hope to soon learn the status of a new addition to the family.

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They believe adopting will give them both even more reason to keep moving forward.

Reg Chapman