Mother of injured veteran spreading word of Wounded Warrior Project

By RACHEL RODGERS | Herald and Review, | Published: July 11, 2012

DECATUR — One month before Sgt. Shane Parsons had completed his service in the Army in September 2006, an improvised explosive device resulted in the loss of both of his legs above the knee and a traumatic brain injury that impaired his cognitive functions, including reading.

About 21 years earlier, Cynthia Parsons of Fostoria, Ohio, had spent seven years trying to conceive a child. She learned she was pregnant one month before her husband had his first round of chemotherapy for brain cancer. He died when Shane, her “miracle child,” was 6 months old.

In Ramadi, Iraq, about 70 miles west of Baghdad, Shane volunteered for a mission, and the Humvee he was driving hit an IED that had the magnitude to level a tank.

“He wasn’t expected to live,” Cynthia recalled Tuesday at the Decatur Club as she told her family’s story to supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project. She serves as a representative of the “Warriors Speak” program, a division of the Wounded Warriors Project.

After surviving two cardiac arrests, 15 surgeries and multiple infections from soil bacteria, Shane’s fight for rehabilitation began.

“Sacrifice goes far beyond the words that it means,” Cynthia said. “We live with them every single day.”

Shane’s most painful injury could not be seen with one’s eyes, Cynthia said.

“At 21 years old, his independence was taken away like pulling the rug out from under him,” she said.

After five years, Shane is able to read at a first-grade level, and she said one of her proudest moments was when Shane read aloud to her. Shane is also involved in a Wounded Warrior Project independence pilot program to regain confidence, and he has been working with a job coach as he aspires to be a junior high school assistant football coach.

Since his injuries, Shane has fished in Alaska, tandem-jumped out of a plane and traveled 130 miles from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, Texas, using a hand cycle.

When Cindy finished her story, she was presented with a $12,800 check for the Wounded Warrior Project.

“We are the home of the free because of the brave, and the wounded should receive the treatment they deserve,” said Decatur resident Bill Schoeneberg, who served in the Vietnam War.

Half of the amount was raised on May 26 during the Walk for Wounded Warriors where former state Rep. Ron Stephens, a Vietnam War veteran, walked from Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy, 245 W. First Drive, to Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield. Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy matched the $6,400 donation.

“Cindy’s story reminded me that it is much harder being a parent of a soldier instead of a soldier,” Stephens said.

Lauren Young, daughter of Dale Colee of Dale’s Southlake Pharmacy, described Cynthia Parsons’ presentation as heart warming and inspirational.

“I think she touched everyone and put a face and a presence to the (Wounded Warrior) Project,” Young said.

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