Airman Attributes Survival to Lifestyle
By Air Force Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 11, 2010 Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Pollock II practically lived in the gym. He was a competitive body builder, a lean 235 pounds with only 10 percent body fat.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Pollock II prepares to practice basketball May 10, 2010, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Pollock is a member of the Air Force team participating in the inaugural Warrior Games. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In August 2008, Pollock was riding his motorcycle to work when he collided with a car that ran through a stop sign. He was traveling 55 miles per hour, and upon impact, he flew 97 feet from his bike. Everything below his waist was broken -- his pelvis, knees, legs and feet.
He was in a coma for three weeks after the accident and was in six different hospitals in six months. All of his broken bones were rebuilt with metal.
"Being a competitive body builder -- staying fit -- saved my life," he said.
Although he is still recovering from his injuries, Pollock continues to stay active. He is one of the wounded, injured and ill airmen representing the Air Force during the inaugural Warrior Games here this week. He will compete along with 17 teammates against participants from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Pollock will compete in multiple events, including wheelchair basketball, shot put and discus, and he will be the only archer representing the Air Force.
He said he first began to play these sports while in therapy at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. The Center for the Intrepid is a rehabilitation center for amputees and burn victims. During therapy, Pollock said, he participated in training camps hosted by trainers from the U.S. Paralympics Committee. Prior to arriving here for training camp, he said, he trained every day in sports similar to those in which he will be competing.
"We train all the time. I'm in therapy; that's my job," he said. "Athletics put you out of the realm of pain, because when you are doing sports, you have adrenaline built up and it subsides pain."
Pollock said his active lifestyle and stubbornness have helped him battle depression and to recover.
"People will say, 'Wow, you're walking a lot better or sooner than I figured,'” he said, “and that's just stubbornness." He is in therapy to walk again.
As he does at the Center for the Intrepid, Pollock said, he will continue to stay active not only to stay healthy, but also to lead other disabled athletes by example.
"He has quiet leadership," said Cami Stock, the Air Force team’s head coach. "He doesn't motivate outwardly as much as the other athletes, but he leads through walking the walk."
Pollock said these games are important to show what's available for people with disabilities.
"[These games] bring exposure to the members with disabilities and the sports for disabled veterans," he said. "The whole thing is getting it out there, the more [we] bring exposure to members with disabilities and the sports [we] do, the more the country can get involved."