Participating in the Warrior Games is not only an honor it’s an opportunity for me to represent Naval Special Warfare and the Navy on a much bigger level. Competing against other service members who, regardless of injury, are constantly striving to excel despite physical or mental setbacks. Holding this inaugural event at the Olympic Training Center further enhances the athletes drive to succeed. Constantly being surrounded by people who want nothing more than for you, as an athlete, to excel and be at your best is like coming home to a surprise party with all your best friends and favorite foods. It’s awesome! Sometimes as you progress through rehabilitation, you can lose site of the fact that your therapists and doctors want the best from you. They are pushing you hard to take that next step, stretch that muscle or massage a scar. It’s just you and your injury. Your will to take that next step; your never quit attitude to start running or swimming again. After graduating from [Special Warfare Combatant Craft] (SWCC) school, I knew that I had reached a milestone in my life. I knew that I would never quit anything again. SWCC school created the building blocks for a tougher, mentally and physically fit me. After my injury, as I was laying in bed, with a broken face, breathing out of tubes, casts on both arms above the elbow, listening to the doctors talk about amputating my arm, I knew that whatever happened I was going to do whatever it took to get back to my unit and my previous physical abilities. I knew that I would never quit. During SWCC school when I was shivering, colder than I had ever been, and the future seemed bleak, I knew that I would drive on towards a distant goal. A goal that seemed far but was really only another day away. One day at a time was my mantra then, and I keep it with me today. Laying in that hospital bed thinking of all the things I had already accomplished, I knew that only another day and I would be running marathons again, placing well in triathlons. The constant drive towards that goal of success is always just around the corner — and that corner is always a daunting one. This Warrior Games is a chance for all services to come together and prove to the world and one another that despite setbacks, you can turn that corner and achieve that distant goal of success! Walking in and among the statues and pictures of gold medal athletes and world record holders, you cannot help but feel like you’ve made it to the gold medal podium, and that all the hard work from SWCC school to the injury, to rehabilitation, to crossing the finish line after my first marathon post injury was not in vain.
About the blogger: Special Warfare Boat Operator 1st Class Dan Hathorn, from Ithaca, N.Y., works at the Naval Special Warfare Recruiting Direcorate East Coast. Hathorn is an endurance athlete who was injured when hit by a car in January 2009 while training for a triathlon. He suffered multiple broken bones, including five vertebrae, and collapsed lungs. After his injury, he quickly assessed his new limitations and began working to return to his status as an elite endurance athlete. He has run one marathon since injury, and he has his sites set on the Boston Marathon and the Kona Ironman.