Recover. Transition. Thrive.
Love and Support Every Step of the Way
In 2016, Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Garrett K. suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, causing severe brain and spinal cord damage. Hope, resiliency, and determination shaped Garrett’s road to recovery. His tenacity and courage are an inspiration for us all!
While serving on an unaccompanied tour away from his family in New Mexico, CMSgt Garrett K. began feeling dizzy with a slight headache. Later, his symptoms worsened and he collapsed. "When I woke days later in the hospital, my wife, father, and son were at the bedside. Damage to my brain caused a loss of vision, hearing, and speech, as well as overall weakness on the left side of my body.”
After discharge from the hospital, Garrett’s recovery began with use of a wheelchair, progressed to a walker, and then finally to forearm crutches. He required surgery to repair his spinal cord due to loss of sensation in his legs, forcing him back to square one in his journey to gain mobility.
Garrett had always been an extremely competitive athlete, participating in triathlons, hiking, surfing, and riding dirt bikes. That competitive spirit would soon shape his journey. He found himself dealing with severe pain and PTSD during his recovery, but he pushed through. With the help of Semper Fi & America’s Fund, Garrett found a new path to recovery – adaptive sports.
Semper Fi & America’s Fund purchased Garrett a Functional Electronic Stimulator bike to help stimulate the nerves to fire in his legs. He also received a recumbent bike, which enables him to compete in events, and an electric mobility chair to help him get around.
In January 2019, Garrett attended an Air Force Wounded Warrior event preparing to compete in the DoD Warrior Games. He participated in 14 events and medaled in 13 of those — bringing home eight gold and five silver medals! Garrett’s success at the Warrior Games was more than an athletic achievement; it was a recovery milestone on his journey to thrive. Since then, he has competed in three triathlons, the 8.15-mile Great Aloha Run, and the King’s Runner 10K.
“I am so appreciative of everything Semper Fi & America’s Fund does to aid warriors regardless of branch of service. The mobility chair allows me to walk my dog every day and gives me more freedom. Additionally, the racing bike they provided allows me to keep training for the Warrior and Invictus Games, as well as just riding for enjoyment. The Fund has improved my situation tremendously, and I’m so grateful for everything I’ve received and the experiences they’ve provided to my wife and my family.”
The Fund has assisted Garrett’s family with gas cards to help with travel for appointments in addition to opportunities to participate in family and caregiver activities.
“Semper Fi & America’s Fund is such an amazing organization. They continue to provide support and equipment to aid in my ongoing recovery, making everyday life easier and more comfortable. Because of The Fund, I have renewed hope I will one day walk again, unassisted. Until then, I plan to continue to train for local swimming and cycle events, triathlons, and the Invictus Games. I always try to remember a quote by Roger Crawford: Being challenged in life is inevitable; being defeated is optional.”