I've got to say, I was not prepared for the sheer awesomeness that is Sarah Rudder. Enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in the year 2000 Sarah was only 1 year into her enlistment when the day that changed so many of our lives occurred. Recovering from a car accident, with multiple injuries Sarah was at Henderson Hall when a plane slammed into the Pentagon. With little regard for their own safety and well-being, Sarah and other Marines went to the Pentagon to help pull people from the rubble and assist in any way they could. On September 11th, 2001, Sarah didn't shy away from her duty, despite her injury, she upheld the highest standards of the Marine Corps and Naval tradition, service before self.[caption id="attachment_14763" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sarah Rudder carries Warrior Games torch onto the stage during the opening ceremony for the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Chicago, Ill., July 1, 2017. Photo by Pfc. Fransico Isreal, 55th Combat Camera[/caption]
"All I wanted to do was fight and they wouldn't let me." -- Sarah Rudder
It was during this time that Sarah further injured herself, shattering the already injured left ankle. Throughout the years of reconstructive surgeries (13 years worth), and finally opting for the amputation Despite a blood clot in keeping her sidelined, the promise of something better was not Sarah. She was told about adaptive sports and that the Marine Corps had a team for that. Running for the first time in years, she finally felt at peace. As she ran more and more she got faster and faster. Sarah ended up winning 9 medals at the Warrior Games and later on 5 gold medals at the Invictus Games. The 10th fastest female amputee in the world in the 100m and 200m. Sometimes we don't have to know where we're going, we just have to go.
"I realized that when I was running, I didn't hear or see anything for once, it was just like peace. I realized everytime I pushed myself, I get moments where I can forget."
Since then Sarah has started working for two charities. The first is Catch a Lift Fund (CAL), which provides combat-wounded with a gym membership for one year or provides money for a home gym. The belief of CAL is rooted in the memory of Army Corporal Chris Coffland. Chris believed that the choice of fitness was a way to achieve the potential both physically and mentally.[caption id="attachment_14765" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]
Prince Harry of Wales congratulates U.S. Marine Lance Corporal retired Sarah Rudder, U.S. Airforce Cpt. Christy Wise and their fellow medalist in the 100-meter dash event at the Invictus Games 100 meter dash event at York Lions Stadium (YOR), Toronto, Canada, Sept. 24, 2017. Photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Luksan, 55th Combat Camera[/caption]Sarah also works with the Semper Fi Fund who provides critical "immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, ensuring that they have the resources they need during their recovery and transition back to their communities."It just goes to show that you never know where life will end up taking you, how you'll be able to make a difference. Right now Sarah is planning a 4-day event where she'll put them through the ringer of 2 to 3 workouts of different types each day. The goal is to show veterans a variety of paths to fitness to get them up and moving again.[caption id="attachment_14766" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]
Marine Corps veteran Lance Cpl. Sarah Rudder readies for a swimming event during the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. June 20, 2016. Photo by EJ Hersom, DoD News[/caption]
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself, we all do that...they need to find their passion again and get out and do things that you enjoy again"
Sarah has a take-no-prisoners mindset when it comes to advising her fellow veterans. She knows the strength that abides deep within them and refuses to accept their defeat.