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Non-profit Organization Helps Local Veterans Pursue Their Dreams

By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, December 22, 2022 12:08 pm

RENO, Nev. (775 Times, NV Globe) –The holidays may be stressful for combat veterans, and a local guy reminds us that many of vets are in need.

“Even though the war’s over, the wounds do not go away,” said Dylan Gray of Smith Valley.

Gray has firsthand knowledge of this. He was injured in 2007 while on his third deployment with the Marines when the Humvee he was driving collided with an explosion.

‘Happy to be alive,” explained Gray. “And when I came back and woke up in a hospital, there was plenty of my fellow service members who didn’t get to wake up in a hospital. And I really didn’t care what it was at that point in time, I was alive, I could see. I could hold my young son again. And so everything else was going to get figured out.”

That includes figuring out how to perform the things he used to do without both of his legs.

“You’ve got to adapt to things and overcome and just find a different way of doing things,” said Gray. “But life will go on, you just have to have the determination to do it.”

That’s when Semper Fi & America’s Fund, a non-profit that has helped over 29,000 veterans, comes in. Everything from financial assistance to counselors and other valuable services is available.

“I’ve gotten grants, they’ve helped with sporting events and things that I’ve had to do. Anything along the way that I’ve ever needed help with in the 15 years I’ve been an amputee now, they’ve been there for me,” added Gray.

He also competed in snowboarding, finishing 11th in the world in snowboard cross. He subsequently retired to attend college, where he acquired a degree and invented a new type of prosthesis.

“Essentially being able to keep your center of gravity, just to give you your regular motion back, which helps tremendously on the slopes,” explained Gray.

Instead of the usual fixed-unit prosthesis, it replicates the complete range of motion of an ankle joint. And this new item might be utilized for anything other than snowboarding.

“Right now I have a lot of legs. I have a whole closet full of them. It’s kind of one for every activity.,” explained Gray. “I’m trying to minimize and create things that minimize how many of those I can so I can switch up activities without having to switch legs all of the time.”

He’s currently going through the patent process and hopes to have his firm completely operational by this time next year.

“I kind of did it selfishly at first, just wanting to solve my own problems,” admitted Gray. “But there’s lots of other people out there that have got the same problems, so they’ll have a product that works for them.”

He now intends to return to competitive snowboarding and compete in the next Paralympic Games.

“Yeah I retired out of it in 2018, saying I wouldn’t go back until I was racing on my own snowboarding leg. So that’s the goal.”

Semper Fi and America’s Fund are sponsoring a campaign through the end of the year, with the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation matching any donations up to $10 million. More information and donations can be made at www.thefund.org.

Credits: KoloTV

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