CAF Operation Rebound
Getting our Injured Troops and First Responders from the Frontline to the Finish Line
Challenged Athletes Foundation's® (CAF) Operation Rebound® program is the premier sports and fitness program for American military personnel, veterans and first responders with permanent physical disabilities. It provides unparalleled opportunities to pursue active lifestyles by offering access to funding for equipment, training and competition expenses. CAF Operation Rebound is proud to support all who have served.
CAF Operation Rebound puts its athletes in a position of strength that shows their resilience and gives others who may still be shrouded in a cloud of despair an example of what is possible. Unfortunately, not everyone who has been injured realizes that they can move forward. They find themselves trapped in a state of pity and too often are surrounded by those who enable such behavior. That is not what our troops need. Dignity. Respect. Responsibility. These are the building blocks for success. These are the values that underpin CAF Operation Rebound.
The men and women of CAF Operation Rebound, have chosen a path towards empowerment. They recognize their challenges, endeavor to overcome them, and ultimately, have made peace with them.
Every athlete does their part to serve the whole. Every member of the CAF Operation Rebound team is important in the greater scheme of what it means to overcome, to be resilient and to set a positive example for others. Here are two stories of those who have turned tragedy into triumph:
“On July 4, 2005, I was wounded in an IED blast while on patrol outside Baghdad’s Green Zone. My life was saved by the quick reactions of our platoon medic who stabilized my wounds and evacuated me for further care. When I arrived stateside I underwent more than 40 surgeries. My blast wounds rendered my left hand immobile, which was eventually amputated. Since being introduced to CAF Operation Rebound in May of 2007 I have completed numerous triathlons to include the 2010 Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. After becoming injured I felt lost. Being a part of Operation Rebound made me feel I’m part of a team again.”-SGT Sam Cila, U.S. Army National Guard (ret.)
“On April 13, 2004 I lost my left leg above the knee from an IED blast. I endured numerous infections and required 15 surgeries. April 20, 2005, I was medically retired from the Army and in October of that year, I completed my first triathlon and have since become a 3-time ITU World Triathlon Champion. I gain so much through sports. They make me feel whole again and that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.” –Melissa Stockwell, 1LT, U.S. Army (retired)
Though news of the conflicts fades from the front pages, the challenges facing our wounded troops remain. CAF Operation Rebound is needed now more than ever.
Long after the last gun has fired, and the last units have come home, we will have a responsibility to the well-being and the care of our injured troops. Their honorable and selfless service to us and our nation demands nothing less.
Many newly returning combat veterans are surviving injuries that in past wars proved fatal. Polytrauma, including multiple limb loss and traumatic brain injury, have become signature wounds of the 21st Century battle space. Though they return home with broken bodies, their spirits remain high and their resilience is nothing less than extraordinary. It is an honor to support them as they go from the frontline to the finish line and experience the healing power of sports.
Bio of Nico Marcolongo
CAF Operation Rebound Program Manager
Nico joined the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) in the spring of 2008 after 14 years of service as a United States Marine Corps Officer. He is a veteran of the Iraq conflict and has over 11 years of fundraising and event experience to benefit injured service members and their families.
Nico is dedicated to supporting the rehabilitative needs of our troops and lead’s CAF’s effort to mentor and provide unparalleled sports opportunities and support to our troops and veterans of any branch of service and first responders who have served honorably and have suffered permanent physical injuries.
Nico is also the founder of the Buddy Bowl Charity Flag Football Tournament. The Buddy Bowl includes both physically challenged and able-bodied athletes on the same field of play and is played annually at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton as well as other locations around the country. CAF Operation Rebound is the primary beneficiary of the Buddy Bowl’s efforts.