Deaf and blind former Army bomb disposal technician Aaron Hale is set to take on the challenge of the Boston Marathon in April.
While Hale, a former sergeant, faces significant challenges ahead of him, his doctor believes his obsession with achieving running goals has kept his body from falling apart and degenerating to the point where he wouldn’t be able to even walk.
“He’s one story that needs to be shared. Not only is it essentially miraculous what function he has now, but it’s miraculous of his spirit. It’s miraculous the power of the mind over the human body,” Dr. Nicholas DeFlumeri told The Boston Herald. “If he didn’t fixate on these goals, like fixating on this marathon, I don’t think he would be where he is as far as function goes. I don’t even think he’d be able to walk.”
Hale first enlisted in the Navy in 2001 before transitioning over to the Army in 2007, at which point he joined the Explosive Ordinance Disposal team and found himself deployed to Afghanistan.
While in Afghanistan in 2011, Hale received a call to diffuse a roadside bomb, which he did successfully. But he soon discovered a second bomb in the surrounding area. Before he had a chance to diffuse it, the bomb detonated. The shrapnel from improvised explosive device immediately blinded him.
He’s undergone more than 20 surgeries since.
“In the first days after the blast I was in the bed at Walter Reed feeling sorry for myself,” Hale said. “The why me’s and what if’s flooded my thoughts. It was the love and support of my family that kept me from getting swept away in that downward spiral. Yes, I was blind, but I am also still a father, son, and soldier. My life is not mine alone. My mother, father, brother, sister, son, and my now fiancee hold stake in my life. I wasn’t allowed to give up.”
Hale received a hero’s welcome ceremony back in Ohio and climbed out of despair by training to climb mountains, but in the process, he realized he needed to build up his cardio, and that’s how he ended up getting in to running.
He completed the Boston Marathon in 2015, but then was hit with meningitis and lost his hearing.
Now, he’s preparing to conquer the Boston Marathon this year in April, and by luck of surgery, some small level of hearing is starting to come back via cochlear implant.
“He has the spirit of champion,” DeFlumeri said. “This guy is an inspiration.”
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