Miami Native Brett Parks Fights to Compete in Wounded Warrior Games UPDATE

Categories: Broward News

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Davis Anderson/Released)
The proud Miami Palmetto High grad balked at first but relented after months when his caseworker hit him with one hell of a subject line in his inbox: Wanna go to Hawaii?

Parks participated in the Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational in January where he did "very well," which is kind of an understatement. He took home gold medals for the 100-meter freestyle, the 50-meter backstroke, the 100-meter relay, discus, and shot put, and he took silver in seated volleyball and the 50-meter freestyle.

The event was life-altering for Parks, who for the first time found folks to whom he could truly relate.

"When you get injured the way some of us have been injured, a lot of motivation and a lot of wind gets taken out of our sails. We just feel like we're less -- we're like second-rate citizens in our head. What Navy Safe Harbor does is they get us together and they help lift us up through athletics and competition. It helps our self-esteem and our confidence and gets us all together so we can understand that we're not alone in this, that we're together in this. As far as family goes, family is great. Family supports us 100 percent, but they also don't truly know 100 percent what we are going through as injured vets. What happens is we get together with each other and all I have to do is shoot one of my brothers a look and he knows exactly how I'm feeling, he knows exactly what's going on with my brain. There's a complete understanding between each other.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist First Class Davis Anderson/Released)
"When I got there, I met a group of guys and girls that were just great," he continues. "They understood what I was going through, and I got to see where they were at. They were far ahead of me, so I knew where I could be eventually. It just really helped me. One thing that sticks in my mind that they told me is: You always take two steps forward, but get ready for that one step back. After that, you're still ahead of the game. They just told me that it's a slow process but where you are today is not where you're going to be tomorrow."

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