Home News Paralyzed Marine walks for the first time in 33 years

Paralyzed Marine walks for the first time in 33 years


FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Marine veteran Terry Labar has spent the last 33 years in a wheelchair after a car slammed into him in the Middle East.

This isn’t the first time Terry has had to deal with challenges in life. During the Vietnam War, he broke his back while rapelling from a helecopiter and fell 90 feet, according to WTVR.

Eventually Terry was able to fight towards recovery and fully heal to return to active-duty service.

“As a Marine, duty is everything,” says Terry.

But this time it was different. After the car smashed into him, Terry knew the life he knew would be no longer.

“I woke up the first day in Richmond and rolled over and saw the wheelchair next to the bed,” he said. “Then it dawned on me. That was for me.”

It took some time, but eventually Terry accepted this next chapter in his life, but vowed that he wouldn’t let the situation defeat him.

“I think that is the best thing for anyone with a disability. Work with what you have make the best of it and have a positive attitude,” says Terry.

Terry has done just that — make the best of his life, living it fully.  He’s spent 20 years working for the FBI, he’s completed two marathons, and has even carried the Olympic torch for the games in 1996.

Terry’s wife, Betsy Labar, marvels at his spirited nature.

“It was pretty tough,” says Betsy. “He just stepped up and coached, soccer coached lacrosse, coached baseball.”

“Really I am just a regular guy who got injured,” Terry said. “Tried raising a family — be as good as father and husband as I could.”

Last week Terry was presented with yet another challenge in life, he was given the opportunity to explore walking once again. He was fitted with a motorized exoskeleton during physical therapy.

“I remember standing up and I felt 10-feet tall,” says Terry. “It was really surreal, it really was.”

Terry walked for the first time since 1984. He’s training and using the device which is no easy feat, two days a week.

“I wanted to do it to help pave the way,” Terry says. “I’ve done four Marine Corps marathons and I was more tired doing that than running the marathons,” he continues. “It’s practice but if I can do it, anyone can.”

After Terry masters walking in the exoskeleton, he will be able to take one home with him for permanent use. Semper Fidelis, Marine.

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