CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - Many of the competitors that hit the beach for Clearwater's 11th Warrior Competition Saturday didn't just build their way up to the grueling crossfit exhibition - they put themselves back together to get there.
The soldiers risked life and limb serving our country and came back home wounded warriors, but that hasn't slowed them down.
"You've got a whole bunch of amputees who have no quit in them, whatsoever. Guys walking around without feet, guys walking around without hands... minus just about everything but a head," said U.S. Army Captain Casey Duval, who lost his hand in 2014 after surviving and IED attack in Afghanistan.
As he recovered at Walter Reed, Captain Duval met Brendan Ferreira, an Army veteran who lost his arm in a suicide bomb attack, also in Afghanistan. The two became fast friends and Ferreira recruited Duval to a growing movement among injured servicemen and women who are combating physical and mental war wounds with fitness.
So on Saturday, wounded veterans hit the beach alongside some of the world’s top crossfit athletes to exhibit the strength, sacrifice and resiliency of American soldiers. The organizers of the 11th Warrior hope to inspire others suffering from physical and mental wounds to come back fighting.
"It's really about empowerment," said Duval. "Everyone's capable of 20 times more than they think they are."
The event also raised funds for Companions for Heroes, a charity that pairs veterans with shelter pets. Founder and Air Force veteran David Sharpe says he was suffering from severe PTSD when his rescue pet gave him a second chance at life
"I was in the act of squeezing the pistol's trigger and my shelter rescue pit-bull walked in and saved my life by licking my face," Sharpe said.