Injured warrior breaks down barriers

'Our injuries bring us together,' Sgt. Lorie Yrigoyen, of Huntington Beach, says of two-week competition held for wounded service members.

May 21, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • Sgt. Lorie Yrigoyen, with Wounded Warrior Battalion West, won a gold medal in the women's 10k recumbent hand-cycle race.
Sgt. Lorie Yrigoyen, with Wounded Warrior Battalion… (Photo by Lance Cpl.…)

Still feeling the effects of the nerve damage suffered when her arm broke in half while she was serving in Afghanistan, Marine Sgt. Lorie Yrigoyen stood on the podium on the first day of the Warrior Games, gold medal in hand.

The following Thursday, back in Southern California, her mother, Cheryl Yrigoyen, waited patiently at her office in Newport Beach to hear if her daughter would win another gold medal in the U.S. Paralympics-sponsored event in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Lorie, 29, participated in the cycling and swimming events at the 2013 Warrior Games — a competition held for injured, ill or wounded service members and veterans since 2010.

Cheryl, 60, of Huntington Beach, knew that her daughter won the gold medal in the women's 10K recumbent bicycle race on May 12. On Thursday, she found out Lorie won another gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle category and then another and then a bronze.


The Surf City resident would discover that her daughter earned gold in the 50-meter backstroke and bronze in the 100-meter freestyle.

Hundreds of injured personnel from all branches of the military participated in the weeklong competition: the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations, according to the Warrior Games website. Representatives from the British armed forces also participated.

"Our injuries bring us together," said Lorie, choking back tears the day after the games ended. "It's such a moving experience. I didn't think it was this big of a deal, to be honest."

The injured soldiers competed in various events, like cycling, wheelchair basketball, archery and swimming.

The Marine sergeant broke the humerus in her right arm in 2012, when her vehicle flipped over in Afghanistan, Lorie said.

"My driver lost control of the vehicle," she said. "Something happened on the outside. We don't know exactly what."

Lorie was transported to Germany, where she underwent surgery. She said doctors had to place a metal plate and eight screws in her arm.

It's been more than a year since the injury and the bone has completely healed, but her motion is limited: She can't place her arm on her hip or touch her back with that arm, she said. Lorie suffered additional damage when her upper arm bone broke.

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