Paralyzed veteran starts his ride to recovery - – Rockford’s News Leader

Paralyzed veteran starts his ride to recovery

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Soldiers serving their country make sacrifices, and sometimes they pay the ultimate price. One from Ogle County survived battle, but came home dramatically changed. He can't walk. This devastating injury kept him away from his favorite hobby for several years. But, thanks to his positive attitude, he's getting back in the saddle.

"I just want to be that person that people think 'He's a great person, he's a fighter, there's not one thing he can't do.'" -says U.S. Army Veteran Brian Sawlsville.

The Rochelle native served three army tours over the course of five years, two in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. During his last tour, an IED explosion paralyzed him from the waist down. Brian remembers the accident happening, but not much else.

"Two weeks later, I woke up at the hospital, and had no idea what was going on."

Thanks to a group called Pegasus Special Riders, Brian has some new hope. The company uses therapeutic horseback riding to help people like Brian with physical challenges.

"An individual comes out to ride on a horse once a week, for one hour, to develop core strength, and improve their balance." -says Pegasus Special Riders Executive Director Wayne Copeland.

Today marks Brian's first time horseback riding in six years.

"I just love the feeling. To be back on the horse again is amazing, it's the best feeling."

He adds that he's got big plans for his future recovery.

"In the future, I'll be hopefully riding my bike, my two-wheel bike. Whether it be for 10 feet or 10 miles, I'm going to ride that bike."

The VFW Honor Guard and American Legion were also present to greet Brian for his first ride.

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