Injured Los Lunas soldier making strides

Posted at: 12/11/2012 10:22 PM
By: Maria Guererro, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Photo: Richard Sanchez
Photo: Richard Sanchez

It’s been almost a month since a deadly crash during a Veterans Day parade in Midland, Texas.

Richard Sanchez of Los Lunas was one of the victims. He ended up with a broken back and is possibly paralyzed, but friends and family say Sanchez isn’t a quitter.

"The toughest part is probably stretching right now,” said Sanchez. “My legs are pretty tight."

A machine at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado measures how much energy Richard Sanchez has in his legs. It doesn’t measure his will to stand tall once again.

"No two spinal cord injuries are the same," Sanchez said. "I'm keeping it in my head that I will walk again."

Sanchez served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was shot twice in Afghanistan in May. But it was on a parade route in Texas where he almost lost his life.

His wife captured the moments before a train smashed into the float carrying Sanchez, other soldiers and their wives.

Sanchez pushed his wife to safety but ended up critically injured. "I want to be able to walk again to enjoy playing catch with my kids or just wrestling with them like I did before," Sanchez said.

As the 31-year-old continues intensive therapy sessions outside Denver, his hometown in Los Lunas is banding together to help.

On Saturday, December 15, the Los Lunas Rail Runner Station will be packed with friends, family and supporters.

"I want him to know that the community really cares about him," said Crystal Romero.

Romero hasn’t seen her classmate since they graduated from Los Lunas High in 1999. But she and other classmates are organizing the fundraiser in the building’s auditorium.

"Not only is he my classmate and someone I know, he's a veteran. And it's our responsibility to help veterans and give back," said Romero.

"[I] hadn't probably talked to them since we graduated in ’99,” remembers Sanchez. “And to have friends like that who still remember you and still care about you 13 years down the road is an incredible feeling."

The Fundraiser will take place Saturday, December 15 from 11am to 3pm at the Los Lunas Rail Runner Station. The event will feature a $10 fajita lunch, silent auction, raffle and giveaways. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at Jake’s Barber Shop in Los Lunas.

For more information call Crystal at 507-5752 or Christina at 550-4628.

For information on the Richard Sanchez fundraiser, click here.