A local Marine who lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan nearly two years ago is not letting the injuries prevent him from participating in the Chicago Marathon.
Ben Maenza joined the Marine Corps in 2010 and was deployed overseas nine months later.
On October 21, 2010, three weeks after arriving in Afghanistan, Maenza was crossing a flooded corn field on foot with his unit when a bomb exploded beside him.
"I lost both my legs above the knee and had several injuries to both my arms."
The Brentwood High School graduate spent 18 months recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
While at Walter Reed he was introduced to people from Achilles International, an organization that helps enable people with disabilities to participate in mainstream athletics and ultimately revived Maenza's competitive spirit.
"Achilles coming in and saying, ‘Hey, we don't feel sorry for you because we know you can do better than this, you are not just a patient in this hospital, you are an athlete; you are a competitor,'" he recalled.
Maenza told Nashville's News 2, the encouragement from Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Vets helped him significantly.
Since the visit with the organization, he has used a hand bike to compete in the Marine Corps Marathon which he finished in just two hours and 22 minutes.
"My second marathon, which was Boston, is one of the world majors. I did that in an hour and 34 minutes," Maenza said.
Now Maenza says he has his attention on the upcoming Chicago Marathon.
"My Army friends and Marine Corps buddies that are all missing legs have been talking trash to each other for about two months now about Chicago this weekend," he said.
Mix in the support of family and friends with his own incredible drive and Maenza says that is what will push him across the finish line in Chicago on Sunday.
"I just think it is all about attitude and determination and resilience. You know, bouncing back off something like this is not an easy thing to do. If I can inspire someone along the way I think that is great," he said.
This past summer, Maenza rode his hand bike from Florida to San Diego as a fundraiser for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, an organization that assists wounded Marines.
Achilles International has a chapter in Nashville which meets every Wednesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the McCabe Park Community Center located at 101 46th Avenue North.