Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September 2010

It is with much joy, pride, and sentiment that I sit down to write for one last time about my brother’s recent triumphs, one year after he was injured in combat. I know that so many of you have been following this website so faithfully, and I am beyond humbled by that. I had absolutely no idea that this story would gather such interest from so many people, and I am so thankful that we were able to share this part of our lives – all our ups and downs - with the people who have held us up through this challenging year. Dan, our mother, and I wouldn’t be where we are today without all the love and support we’ve received from you, in all the different ways that you have given it to us.

And although it’s been a year now, Dan is still not finished with surgery. I think his OR record is up in the thirties now - just a few more to go and then he will be kissing that place goodbye! And I will be saying farewell to the waiting room couch and all my favorite vending machine snacks. Last week he had operation #1 in a series of steps to fix the internal damage he suffered from the blast. His surgeon was very pleased with the results, so we are hopeful that when all is said and done around November, the Inner Dan will be as good as new. Fingers crossed everybody - the next few months might get a little rough.

But enough of that.....

Feast your eyes on this!

Now if that isn’t the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is. It started with a really fast walk, and progressed to a run-walk tied to a harness, then to a lap around the gym without the harness, then to 400 meters around a high school track, and now this weekend he is running the Navy Five Miler in Washington D.C. This is the product of months of blood, sweat, tears, intense physical therapy, self-discipline and determination, and thousands upon thousands of calories burned and consumed a day (yep folks, one year later, still eating everything in sight). Meticulous skin and wound care is a huge part of his daily routine now. It is a constant battle to protect his legs from getting beaten to shreds inside their prosthetic sockets, but he loves running so much that it’s a battle he’s willing to fight.

And as for me, I stay behind the scenes these days. I am still living in Bethesda in our apartment with Dan, and I continue to help him out with little day-to-day things as a sister/roommate, but he is basically as independent as ever before. Although I’m already a Registered Nurse, I have recently gone back to school to become certified as a Wound/Ostomy RN. If I can use what I have seen with my brother to help the other Dan’s of the World with their colostomies and various wounds from combat, then I can’t imagine any better line of work.

One last thing about the other Dan’s of the World….there are a lot of them out there. The numbers of injured men and women at Walter Reed and other military hospitals are astonishing right now. We need to turn every single story into the same kind of success story that we have seen with Dan. And sadly not everybody has the resources and support that we have been so fortunate to have. If anybody is still looking for an additional way to give back to these men and women, there are organizations out there that are fighting every day to give them what they deserve. Please visit www.phoenixpatriotfoundation.org , a project born this year out of a desire to make things right.

And although this is the last post on his website, this won’t be the last time you’ll see him. It doesn’t even have to be said how bright his future is, and how much we are going to continue to be inspired by his story. Dan has no solid plans for the future quite yet – he is just going one day at a time – but I know that wherever he ends up taking himself and the rest of his life will make these triumphs of the past year seem like just a small fraction of what he’s capable of.

On behalf of my family – thank you.



  1. Thank You for keeping us updated. It's been inspiring to see the progress!

  2. Wow! Dan is such a HERO and so are you Leslie! Awesome that you are going back to school! BIG HUGS from KANSAS to you both!

  3. As always, thank you for keeping us updated. Dan's progress continues to inspire! Best of luck in the 5 miler this weekend!!

  4. Leslie and Dan,
    Thanks for sharing both of your stories and for your selfless support of others. I will never forget either of you and I wish you the best in life, always

  5. Wow, he has come such a long way, so incredible!!

  6. Saw Dan running the Navy 5 Miler today. He and his support team looked great!

  7. Congratulations to Dan & your family for making it through such a challenging year... Dan seems to be doing awesome! Keep up the great work, Dan!

  8. Leslie,
    Thank you for your post. I'm sad this is the last, but know the time and pressure it puts upon you, and it's time to move on. Good luck in life, and please know that so many of us out there think of you all constantly.

  9. Hi Leslie and Dan, My son was a new plebe last year and we have followed your journey in thoughts and prayers. We so admire your love, faith and happiness of spirit. Thank you for this gift of your souls.

  10. Always got a place for you on my pull up bar, shipmate.


  11. love this blog!! Good luck

    ps.just started my blog i think you could like it http://debtamdesigns.blogspot.com/
    xox Deb Tam Designs

  12. God Bless you all.

    Always in our prayers.

  13. Leslie, Dan,

    I came to visit last year when Dan first came into Bethesda. I'm a friend of a friend from Dan's Naval Academy days (Alex Martin, USMC). There's a young Recon Sgt on Ward 5E who is dealing with problems as severe as Dan's. If he gets a chance while he's there it might be good for Dan to stop in and see him. Give some encouragement. His mom and sister are both there helping. Sgt Jonathan Blank.

    Semper Fi and best to Dan and your family

    Jesse Brown

  14. Leslie & Dan,
    Not certain you will see this... I have been trying to find info on Dan's progress. You are BOTH an inspiration, to us all.

    Dan, our mutual friend was right... I will have to keep my eye on you to see what you achieve NEXT!

    Much love to you both!

  15. I saw you in the NY Marathon yesterday and was thrilled. You are absolutely amazing - so strong, so dedicated. Hats off, you greatly inspire!

    Here is one of your photos :-)


  16. Thank you for your story and service to our country, I wish my daughters could appreciate the sacrifice, the unshelfish sacrice to protect thier freedom!!!

  17. Just read about Dan in the most recent issue of Shipmate. Is he still headed to Sochi? If so, what is the best way to follow his results? Know NBC is covering, but we can't always watch. On a side note, my wife and I are moving to VT this weekend, if Dan trains biathlon at the Ethan Allen Range in Jericho would love to meet up!
    Mike Sharp '94