Many take personally burglary of disabled veteran

reposted from a story By Howard Altman

To whoever broke into Apartment 515 at the Bristol Place apartment complex in New Tampa: If you are the least bit tech savvy, you’ve probably already seen the pictures on the MacBook Pro you stole, the ones with the guy in the wheelchair missing a right leg.
The guy in the picture is Thongpane Thongdeng. His friends call him TD.
Let me tell you about Thongdeng, just in case you saw his picture and were wondering what happened to his right leg, which was amputated below the knee. Once you hear the story, you might want to bring the stuff you stole back right quick. Because there are a lot of people who are taking your act very personally.
A St. Petersburg High School graduate, Thongdeng joined the Army in 2007.
“I wanted to jump,” said Thongdeng, now 33 and sitting in his wheelchair, wearing a 101st Airborne Division baseball cap.
Thongdeng’s journey led him to Forward Operating Base Connolly in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan, near Jalalabad.
On the night of Dec. 2, 2010, Spc. Thongdeng and his comrades went to a village to find out what supplies the local police outpost needed. Then they went to another village to speak to elders there.
“We were the third truck in the convoy,” said Thongdeng, who was riding in a lumbering tan vehicle known as an MRAP. “After leaving the village, we came to two semi trucks that seemed to be broken down.”
After talking to the drivers, the convoy drove by. It didn’t get very far.
About 200 meters away from the semis, there was a tremendous explosion.
Not that Thongdeng saw it or heard it.
“I remember waking up and the truck was upside down,” said Thongdeng. “We were in a ditch. Everyone was yelling for help.”
He passed out, waking up more than two weeks later at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
His right leg was mangled. His spine was badly injured, confining him to a wheelchair. The concussive blast gave him traumatic brain injury.
Eventually, Thongdeng and his family made their way back to the area, with Thongdeng an inpatient at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital while his wife and five kids lived with her parents in St. Petersburg.
Doctors tried to save his leg, but the damage was too severe and he underwent an amputation at Tampa General Hospital.
Though his condition was improving, Thongdeng was forced to rent a one-bedroom apartment in New Tampa to be near Haley, where was still getting treatment. He couldn’t live with his in-laws because the house wasn’t wheelchair accessible and it was too far. His family had to stay behind because, on his salary, he couldn’t afford a place large enough to accommodate seven people.
A few weeks ago, Thongdeng went back into Haley. Still in a great deal of pain, he had to stay there as doctors tried out new medication.
That’s where you come into the picture, whoever it was that broke into the apartment.
While Thongdeng was in the hospital, you cut the screen to his apartment, walked in, tipped over his big-screen television, stole his new MacBook Pro, his Xbox, lots of other electronics, jewelry and even food from his refrigerator.
“I came home and saw I had been broken into,” said Thongdeng. “I was angry.”
So was Connie Trigoe.
A 14-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department, Trigoe was the officer who came to investigate the burglary on Nov. 17. When Trigoe arrived at the apartment, saw Thongdeng in his wheelchair and 101st Airborne hat, she knew this was more than the usual burglary.
“My dad was in Vietnam, my brother in Desert Storm, my brother-in-law is still in the military and has been in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” Trigoe said. “I grew up to respect veterans.”
Trigoe said that, “admittedly, I was a little angry over the situation. He sacrificed, lost his leg in Afghanistan and someone came into his apartment. That angered me.”
Wanting to do something for Thongdeng, Trigoe organized her fellow members of the 242nd Squad in District 2 and gathered up enough money to buy a new Xbox for the wounded soldier.
“When we gave him the Xbox, I shook his hand and thanked him for his service,” said Trigoe. “What humbled me the most was that he said, ‘No, thank you for protecting us on this side.’ That kind of caught me off guard.”
Thongdeng said he was surprised and joyful at the outpouring of support.
Following the police donation, Operation Helping Hand, an eight-year-old charity group that helps the wounded at Haley, made a $2,000 donation to Thongdeng, who police say lost about $6,000 worth of items in the robbery.
“The man is very quiet and somewhat embarrassed by the situation,” said Bob Silah, a retired Navy captain who heads the organization. “He needs help but was too embarrassed to reach out.”
Operation Helping Hand is ready to offer more help so Thongdeng and his family can find an apartment until another group, Homes for Our Troops, can build the family a new home once it finds land and a building partner for the project.
Those wishing to contribute can make checks payable to Operation Helping Hand. Mark check for “TD” and mail to Operation Helping Hand Inc., Attn: Bob Silah: PO Box 6383, MacDill Air Force Base FL 33608.
To whomever broke in and stole Thongdeng’s belongings – keep looking over your shoulder. You have made the police, the MacDill community and a member of the Screaming Eagles extremely mad.

American amputee climbs skyscraper with bionic leg in 45 minutes

Reposted from a story From: AAP  November 05, 2012 1:25PM

Zac Vawter

Zac Vawter, a 31-year-old amputee, walks up the stairs of the Willis Tower in Chicago. Pictures: AP Source: AP

The metal on Zac Vawter bionic leg gleamed as he climbed 103 floors of Chicago’s iconic Willis Tower, becoming the first person ever to complete the task wearing a mind-controlled prosthetic limb.

Mr Vawter, who lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident, put the smart limb on public display for the first time during an annual stair-climbing charity event called ‘SkyRise Chicago’ hosted by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where he is receiving treatment.

“Everything went great,” he said at the event’s end. “The prosthetic leg did its part, and I did my part.”

He finished the climb in about 45 minutes.

Bionic Stair Climber  Zac Vawter

Zac Vawter, fitted with an experimental “bionic” leg, looks down from the Ledge at the Willis Tower in Chicago during a training session.Picture: AP /Brian Kersey

The robotic leg is designed to respond to electrical impulses from muscles in his hamstring. When Mr Vawter thought about climbing the stairs, the motors, belts and chains in his leg synchronized the movements of its ankle and knee.


The computerized prosthetic limb, like something one might see in a sci-fi film, weighs about 4.5 kilograms and holds two motors.

Bionic – or thought-controlled – prosthetic arms have been available for a few years, thanks to pioneering work done at the Rehabilitation Institute. Knowing leg amputees outnumbering people who’ve lost arms and hands, the Chicago researchers are focusing more on lower limbs. If a bionic hand fails, a person drops a glass of water. If a bionic leg fails, a person falls down stairs.

This event was a research project for us, said Joanne Smith, the Rehabilitation Institute’s CEO.

“We were testing the leg under extreme conditions. Very few patients who will use the leg in the future will be using it for this purpose. From that perspective, its performance was beyond measure,” she added.

To prepare for his pioneering climb, Mr Vawter said, he practiced on a small escalator at a gym, while researchers spent months adjusting the technical aspects of the leg to ensure that it would respond to his thoughts.

When Mr Vawter goes home to Washington where he lives with his wife and two children, the experimental leg will stay behind in Chicago. Researchers will continue to refine its steering. Taking it to the market is still years away.

“We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go,” said lead researcher Levi Hargrove of the institute’s Center for Bionic Medicine. “We need to make rock solid devices, more than a research prototype.”

The $7.7 million project is funded by the US Department of Defense and involves Vanderbilt University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Rhode Island and the University of New Brunswick.

“A lot of people say that losing a leg is like losing a loved one,” said Mr Vawter. “You go through a grieving process. You and establish a new normal in your life and move on. Today was a big event. It’s just neat to be a part of the research and be a part of RIC.”

Nearly, 3,000 climbers participated in the annual charity event, called SkyRise Chicago. Participants climbed about 2,100 steps to the Willis Tower’s SkyDeck level to raise money for the institute’s rehabilitation care and research

Daniel Priotti, Veteran In Wheelchair, Assaulted On Halloween By Marine

Reposted from a story by Christopher Dabney: Cops

Posted: 11/02/2012 10:00 am EDT Updated: 11/02/2012 10:00 am EDT

Christopher Dabney Daniel Priotti

Christopher Dabney, 22, allegedly knocked 35-year-old Army veteran Daniel Priotti out of his wheelchair because he believed Priotti’s uniform and wheelchair were a Halloween costume.

A U.S. Army veteran who uses a wheelchair was assaulted this week by a Marine veteran who thought the man’s wheelchair and uniform were a Halloween costume.

Florida man Daniel Priotti served in the U.S. Army from 1996-1998, and was paralyzed 10 years ago in an unrelated accident, the Gainesville Sun reports.

The 35-year-old told the Sun that he has worn his uniform on Halloween for years. Priotti says he was waiting in line at a restaurant in Gainesville early Thursday morning when someone hit him twice, knocking him out of his wheelchair.

Police say the man who hit him was 22-year-old Christopher Dabney, a Marine veteran who was wearing a pink tutu as a Halloween costume. Dabney reportedly believed Priotti’s uniform and wheelchair were fake, and got angry about what he believed was an offensive costume.

“[Dabney] should be stripped of being allowed to be called a Marine,” Priotti told the Sun. “This is not something a Marine does — they have more self control.”

The veteran noted that if Dabney were offended, he should have tried to talk to him about it.

“I could see [Dabney] saying something to me first — ‘Aw man, that’s messed up being dressed as a disabled veteran’ — and then I could say that I really am a disabled veteran.”

Dabney has been charged with abuse of the disabled, according to the Miami News Times.

He also told the paper that he does not believe his attacker should go to jail, but instead should have to perform community service working with the disabled.

Priotti did not suffer any serious injuries, and is keeping a great sense of humor about the incident.

“I got knocked out last night for wearing my army uniform, by a 22 year old marine vet wearing a pink tutu…lol” reads a post on his Facebook page

Wheelchair Warriors the first ever wheelchair MMA fighting school

When I was a child from a very early age I was trained by one of the finest kindest sensei’s In Australia In judo, My brother became involved with a 7th dan Tae Kwondo champion as a business partner and over the years he became a close family friend and through him I became a student.

My family was heavily into the military,Several brothers and brotherinlaw and uncles and even my step father all served their countries in vietnam and other conflicts.

I was from a home run by a single mother so the older siblings raised the younger ones, so military hand to hand combat was taught to me by my older siblings when they were home on leave.

By the time I was an adult I had competed in and won every title in my native country, and several others around the world. By the time I was 35 I held multiple dan grades in multiple martial arts and had considerable experience as both a champion and a private body guard or “executive security”.  Over the years  I was forced through ill health to stop training, and when I became fulltime in the wheelchair I always wondered If I had one more  fight left in me.

At the start of the 2012 london paralympics I was sent an amazing video It was of two men in wheelchairs fighting mixed martial arts and I wanted In .

I tracked down its origin and  I contacted the founders and trainers, and to cut a long story short I have been invited to be a coach when the Wheeled warriors establishes here in New York And I am counting the days.

If like me you want to climb past your disability and let no one put you in a box, then maybe a cage is just for you with an opponent in front of you, and dojo run by Wheeled warriors is your path to being all you can be interested?

here’s how you start

Wheelchair warriors is world wide and getting bigger every day, but the only way we the wheelchair community get the idea that were helpless out of the minds of the able bodied public is to show great atheletes like wheelchair Warriors doing what they are masters at and doing it to the best of their abilities. So If you’re interested in setting up a gym in your town or city or country, Or bringing a demonstration fight to a venue near you, please contact me and I will put you in touch with the founding teachers.

Triple amputee Marine walks out, throws first pitch

Participant in Zito’s Strikeouts for Troops Foundation, Kimmel honored before Game 2

 Accompanied by Barry Zito and Willie Mays, Marine corporal Nicholas Kimmel throws out the ceremonial first pitch

SAN FRANCISCO — Nick Kimmel has been a baseball fan his entire life, but he never could have imagined four years ago that the game he loves would play such an important role in helping him get through recent events that were both tragic and challenging.

In 2008, Kimmel decided to forego a partial scholarship offer to play baseball at Arizona State University, and instead enlisted in the Marines. Today, he’s piecing his life back together after losing both legs and an arm in an explosion while on his second tour of duty last year in Afghanistan.

World Series

Several Major League Baseball players, offering their time, resources and, most importantly, their friendship, have helped with the healing process. Giants pitcher Barry Zito is at the top of that list.

Kimmel threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night, escorted by Zito, with whom he struck up a friendship during Spring Training earlier this year. Kimmel was one of 25 wounded Marines invited to Arizona to participate in Zito’s Strikeouts for Troops Foundation event, and since then, the two have stayed in close contact as Kimmel works to move on with his life as a triple amputee.

This wasn’t the first time Kimmel had thrown out a first pitch at a baseball game, but it was the first time he walked out to the mound on his own, without needing a wheelchair for assistance. In addition to Zito, Kimmel was also escorted by Hall of Famer Willie Mays. Just before he threw a strike to Giants closer Sergio Romo, Kimmel received a long standing ovation from the sellout crowd at AT&T Park and from almost everyone in uniform in both dugouts.

“I’m just so excited for him to be going out there, and I’m just honored to be a part of it,” Zito said.

When Kimmel met Zito at Spring Training, he was only a few months removed from the Dec. 2 explosion that severed three of his limbs. Initially quiet and timid, Kimmel eventually warmed up to Zito and several other Major Leaguers recruited by the pitcher to participate in the Strikeouts For Troops spring event, including Mark Kotsay, Brad Ziegler and Jake Peavy.

“He was really down,” Zito said. “He was really quiet at first, but we established a relationship over the last eight months. Kotsay, Peavy, a lot of the other boys … we text with him. He’d send little videos on the progress of his prosthetics, to all of us, in a group text. We were all supportive.”

And they were diligent about keeping in touch.

“Growing up, [seeing] baseball players, you’re just awestruck,” Kimmel said. “They don’t even seem human. Now, they’re just my friends.”

Kimmel lives in San Diego, and thanks to the Padres — who gave him season tickets at no cost — he attended all but 10 home games. For someone who says he “grew up living baseball,” having that kind of access to his home team — he also has an open invitation to attend batting practice whenever he wants — was a treat.

Kimmel garnered a ton of attention before the game Thursday, beginning with a news conference with Commissioner Bud Selig and four World War II-era baseball veterans who served the United States: Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda and legendary broadcasters Bob Wolff and Jerry Coleman.

Kimmel, sitting in the front row next to his father, Rick, received a standing ovation in a jam-packed news conference room filled with several recognizable baseball dignitaries, including Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, retired slugger Frank Thomas, Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and former Commissioner Peter Ueberroth.

All of the men on the panel extended kind words to the Purple Heart Award winner.

“I’ve had heroes in my life — Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth,” Lasorda said. “But I look at this Marine here … this is my hero.”

Said Coleman: “When I [talk] to young groups, I ask them, ‘What’s your greatest weapon?’ ‘My arm, my leg.’ ‘No, it’s your brain.’ That’s what you want to do, Nick, get that going. It’ll work for you just fine.”

As Kimmel stood on the field preparing to throw out the pitch, he felt neither anxious nor nervous. Understandably, given what he’s been through, throwing a baseball in front of 40,000 people is, really, no big deal.

“The Marine Corps kind of numbs you to this kind of stuff,” Kimmel said. “It hadn’t really hit me a little bit until I got off the plane this morning. From all the missions that I’ve been trained to do, over and over and over, I’m not saying this is monotonous to me, but the nerves aren’t really there. The stress isn’t really there.

“I’ve done so much high-stress stuff all the time, it’s kind of another day of walking into the park, really. Other than it’s a world-wide scene and it’s the World Series.”

The visit may have been just another day at the park, but it’s likely one few who witnessed in person will forget

British Columbias champion of the disabled Paul Caune to be honored by her majesty Queen Elizabeth the second for his service to disabled community of Canada

As most Of you know I grew up In Australia, by the time I went to school  I knew every word to god save the Queen we sang it very day in Assembly. My step father served in her majesty’s forces with honor, and he was born in Yorkshire England so we as Australians were and are Loyal Royalists. As such whether you support the royalty or not a medal from her majesty Is one of the highest recognitions you can receive for your selfless work. In the short time I have known Paul and come to call him friend, It has quickly become clear that noone fights harder for their community.


We the disabled advocacy community are so proud of you Paul well deserved. Your friend Mia G of NY

 Below is the letter Paul received in notification well done


Dear Civil Rights Nowers,
I received an interesting letter yesterday.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Dear Paul:

…To celebrate Her Majesty’s 60 years of selfless service and devotion to duty, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnson, Governor General of Canada, announced the issuance of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal as a visible way to recognize outstanding Canadians.

These medals provide an opportunity to honour exceptional Canadians for their contributions to their fellow citizens,to our communities and to our country. Members of Parliament were given the honour of bestowing the awards to thirty members of their communities.

On behalf of His Excellency, I am pleased to inform you that you will awarded this commemorative medal…

Yours sincerely,
Don Davies, MP
Vancouver Kingsway”

This is overwhelming.

Thank you Don Davies and His Excellency the Governor General.

Any contribution of value that I may have given to my country is solely due the support given to me by my family and friends. Thank you.

The award ceremony is Nov 18.

Wheelchair Bodybuilders Muscle Their Way to the Top


Nick Scott practices his poses backstage at the first ever Wheelchair Pro Show in Houston.

When he was 16, Nick Scott was in a near-fatal car accident. He was left paralyzed from the waist down. Nonetheless, Scott, now 30, is also known in certain circles—namely, the wheelchair bodybuilding world, a universe in which his is perhaps the most recognizable face—as “The Beast.” The Beast isn’t sure of his bench press limit, only because he hasn’t yet stopped reaching for more weight. The metaphor’s an obvious one, but true: ”If you want something bad enough, nothings gonna stop you from not getting it,” he has said.

And The Beast wants to spread the word: he was instrumental in the creation of the first-ever competition for certified International Federation of BodyBuilders (IFBB) Pro Wheelchair Bodybuilders, which was held last fall. The 2012 IFBB Pro Wheelchair championships took place Oct. 13 in Houston, an event open only to Scott and the dozen other men who have qualified as pros. Harold Kelley was named the winner in 2011 and 2012.

Photographer Lauren Fleishman has been documenting the sport for over a year, including that first competition. She first heard about wheelchair bodybuilding via a phone call from her cousin, who works in a hotel where a bodybuilding event took place. “I got so excited that I hung up the phone and began researching the sport,” she says.

Fleishman says that when she first began exploring the topic, she noticed that almost all of the photographs of bodybuilders, at least the ones that she could find, portrayed the participants in an almost grotesque manner. She wanted to avoid that look. “In showing a different side to it, it’s a way of connecting people, a way of changing their perceptions about the sport.”

Wheelchair bodybuilding competitions date back about 15 years, and both amateurs and professionals compete in worldwide events throughout the year. After following the participants for months, Fleishman says that, besides the normal suspense that comes with any competitive event, there’s another layer to it. “Seeing what being on stage does for them, they really, really shine,” she says. “You have a whole range of reasons why they compete, but the dedication and perseverance is really inspiring.” And it’s not just on stage: last May, in a Wal-mart in Texas, Fleishman accompanied Scott—the de facto spokesman for the sport—when he went to purchase batteries for his wheelchair, which is rigged to light up when he performs. Outside the store, a teenage boy, also in a wheelchair, approached Scott to say that he hoped one day to be like him. “You can obviously see that Nick has muscles,” says Fleishman. “The kid was impressed. It was a really nice moment to see that.”

But there has been one drawback to immersion in the wheelchair bodybuilding community during her year of photographing the project—and, as the work continues, it may only get worse. “It’s really hard,” Fleishman says, “because you want them all to win.”

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