Veterans, para-triathletes prepare for Cap Tex Triathlon - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Veterans, para-triathletes prepare for Cap Tex Triathlon

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The Capitol of Texas Triathlon is on Memorial Day and disabled veterans will be well represented.  That's because this year the event will also be the para-triathlon national championship.  Veterans from across the country will be here to compete and re-affirm that despite loss of limb there's no loss of living life.

Lt. Col. Patty Collins has been getting ready. She's trained hard, running, swimming, and biking.

"Losing my leg didn't mean I wouldn't compete again.  It's just more a logistical challenge. I'm not as fast, but I'm not 21 anymore either.  Now I smell the roses that I knew were already there."

She deployed to Iraq and she made it through her tour there.  Then in 2006 she lost her leg because of a cycling accident on US soil.

However Collins is still going strong, and part of the reason is Operation Rebound, a program of the challenged athlete's foundation.

"It really opens up the eyes of physically challenged people who wake up one morning and are not the way they used to be, and it builds a team because you're with so many others that share a common bond, be it military or first responder, and now they share a common disability," Collins said. 

The program helps disabled active duty military, vets and first responders get prosthetics, coaching, instruction, and equipment.  It gives them anything to help them move forward physically and figuratively.          

Competitions like the Cap-Tex-Tri bring that home.

"You get additional cheerleaders because people are inspired by you.  So it pushes you harder to know someone's saying good job. So it's good."

So Operation Rebound provides the framework to deal, cope, and thrive with their disabilities.  For Collins at least, life without a leg has shown her more about herself then she'd ever seen when she had two legs.

"It taught me a lot of things.  It gave me patience because you don't walk again overnight. It taught me to have compassion for people, you know I have a disability you can see but there are so many with PTSD, cancer whatever their issue may be that we can't see"

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