Holland Marine Veteran Competes In U.S. Warrior Games

By Karen Berger | Mirror Reporter | TheMirrorReporter.com | May 26, 2011

Whether on the track, the basketball court, on horseback or in water, U.S. Marine Sgt. Lee Randles doesn’t let his prosthetic leg stop him.

I haven’t found a sport that I haven’t been able to play,” Randles said. “Although when I play basketball, I’m pretty energetic and some of the guys are scared they will be hit by my leg.”

Lee Randles Mirror Newspaper Photo
U.S. Marine Sgt. Lee Randlesfrom Holland, Ohio springs down the track during the 2011 Warrior Games at the Garry Berry Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. May 17, 2011. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl Kayla M. Hemann)

The Holland native, who served in the Marine Reserves for eight years after graduating from St. John’s Jesuit High School in 2000, competed in track and field and swimming events May 17-21 for the 2011 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs.

In swimming, Randles took fourth place in the 50 meter and 100-meter freestyle, and in track he took fourth place in the 200-meter dash and sixth in the 100-meter dash.

Sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee and Department of Defense, the Paralympic-style competition consists of wounded, ill or injured active or veteran service members from the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command.

Randles was part of the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s All-Marine team, whose 49 athletes included 27 active duty and 22 Marine veterans.

Many of the members of the All-Marine team participate in triathlons and cycling competitions, Randles said.

With the Parapan American Games scheduled for November in Mexico, Randles plans to head to Florida next month to see if he can qualify for the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes and the long jump.

While at St. John’s, he played football his freshman year but a horseback riding accident put him out of commission for his sophomore year. Instead, he discovered pole vaulting and sailing, competing in regattas.

Losing his left leg from above the knee due to a motorcycle accident in 2005 didn’t derail his determination.

“The way I was raised, and being in the Marine Corps, instilled in me a no quitting, no fear factor,” Randles said.

When he first got his prosthetic leg, Randles went to running clinics where Paralympians taught him to walk and run properly.

As a team coordinator for the Semper Fi Fund, Randles makes sure that other wounded warriors get to sporting events and stay motivated.

He’ll tell Marines or anyone who is missing a limb or challenged: “Life is only as good as you make it. Work hard and don’t quit.”

After his accident, Randles (who had done SWAT and building security in the Marine Reserves) was switched to a desk job for the last three years.

“It was new to have guys missing limbs,” he said.

For several years, Randles worked as a prosthetics technician before his position with the Semper Fi Fund, which aids Marines.

As part of his job, he visits soldiers all over the country, providing encouragement and encouraging participation in sporting events.

“We take a Marine who is missing one or two limbs, and show them we’re still out here being Marines and living a healthy lifestyle,” Randles said. “Most people have no idea they’ve never met an amputee or paraplegic and don’t know how we live our daily lives.”

Randles, the son of Lee and Diane Randles, continues to lead a healthy lifestyle himself. Last year he ran the Historic Half Marathon in Virginia, and as a member of the Toledo Horsemen’s Club he rides regularly in the area.

For more information on the Semper Fi Fund, visit www.semperfifund.org, and for details on the Warrior Games, visit www.facebook.com/warriorgames.

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To find out the results of the Warrior Games or to leave a comment for Team Semper Fi go to Semper Fi Fund Blog