Rico Roman: from Purple Heart to Gold Medal is part of a sponsored collaboration with Milk Life. However, all opinions and my appreciation for Rico Roman are my own. Thank you for reading and supporting the brands that make Savoir Faire possible.
I used to be a journalist and because of that I’m used to dealing with celebrities, politicians and all kind of public figures. Just to give you an idea: I met Juan Carlos de Borbón, when he was King of Spain; Javier Pérez de Cuellar, when he was Secretary of the United Nations; and many more. I was always in touch with leaders, superstars, and powerful people.
But, besides my brother in law, I never had the chance to be so close to a soldier, a veteran, an ordinary human being who does extraordinary things and becomes a hero: one of those braves who makes America the land of the free. Yesterday, thanks to Milk Life, I had the unique opportunity to met Rico Roman.
Rico is a veteran, somebody who was ready to sacrifice his life for our freedom, and who after being wounded and with an amputated leg became a gold medalist athlete. He’s U.S. Paralympian in sled hockey and is currently training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Spring, Colorado for the Paralympic Winter Games 2018 in PyeongChang.
Rico is a husband, a dad of 2, and Milk Life brand ambassador and admirable role model. He paused his training to PyeongChang to come to Miami with his mom Connie. Here, he was part of a Facebook Live at Hispanic Kitchen. I had the honor to co-host it with my dear Anabelle Blum. This was our first Facebook live together, our first one in English and we had a blast!
For me, the whole experience was very fulfilling in many senses. As a mom, I had the opportunity to introduce my son Tomás Eugenio (14), who is a basketball player, to such an inspiring Latino athlete. After seeing my boy naturally and espontaneously participating in the event, I’m so proud of him. As an American citizen, I can only be thankful for meeting Rico, and for the opportunity to hug a real hero and thanking him for his service.
Inspired by two veterans, his great uncle and uncle who served at World War II and Vietnam, after high school Rico enlisted in the Army. He served in Kosovo and was on duty in Iraq. In 2007, on a mission near Bagdad, his vehicle hit an explosive device and his left leg was severely injured.
At that very moment, he understood his career in the Army was over. The doctors did their best to save his leg and Rico overcame many surgeries but the pain was still there. He was awarded a Purple Heart, a decoration to honor those wounded during service. A year after his injury, to stop his tremendous pain, he asked his doctors to amputate his leg above the knee.
Rico wasn’t born to be a gold medalist, instead he was built to. This is the inspiring message he conveys. His amputation was the beginning of a long journey to become a Paralympic athlete. He learned to stand and played wheelchair basketball and football. Determined as he is, Rico decided to try sled hockey, a sport he wasn’t familiar with, and he mastered it.
When his coach encouraged him to try out for the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team, he didn’t make it. But that didn’t stop him. On the contrary, he found inspiration to keep pushing himself. He made it to the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team in 2011 and in 2014 he was part of the Team USA for the Paralympic Winter Games 2014 in Sochi, where Team USA won gold.
He’s the epitome of drive, discipline, dedication and hard work. When in PyeongChang, we will be cheering for him and Team USA.
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