Los Lunas community welcomes home recovering vet
Posted at: 12/15/2012 4:26 PM
| Updated at: 12/15/2012 6:59 PM
By: Maria Guerrero, KOB Eyewitness News 4
With the sizzle of a Los Lunas tradition, the Valencia County Community is supporting one of its own: A Los Lunas High School graduate, turned American soldier on a tough mission.
"He was just such a nice, happy guy and when I heard about his accident I just couldn't believe it," said Rachel Sego of Los Lunas.
Richard Sanchez served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sanchez was shot twice in Afghanistan in May.
The 31-year-old is making incredible strides in his recovery of a broken back and possible paralysis, however, he wasn’t critically injured in combat - but rather in a parade. Sanchez and other vets were on a float Veterans Day weekend in West Texas when a train smashed into it.
"He had already given so much going and fighting for us and when all of these kids from high school, our graduating class organized this, I was just overwhelmed," said Sego who graduated with Sanchez in 1999.
High school classmates put on a fundraiser together Saturday afternoon, complete with a fajita lunch, raffle and silent auction.
"When you run into a situation like we did there's nothing more beautiful than having somebody like the community here kind of support you," said his uncle Frank Chavez.
The local VFW post presented Richard’s sister Valerie a $200 donation, certificate of appreciation and membership.
"Just overwhelming, just so much joy and happiness that this tragedy has brought a community so close together and willing to help," said Valerie Sanchez.
As he undergoes painful physical therapy in Denver, Richard says this kind of support gives him the energy to keep moving.
"To find out all the support we're getting from the Los Lunas community and having the community pulling together to help one of their own who hasn't lived there in 13 years is incredible and I can't put it into words how thankful I am," he said in a phone interview.
Click here to donate to the Richard Sanchez Recovery Fund.