Gazette Sea Foam: Injured Marine honored with cycle

October 25, 2010 

Thanks to Anne Guthrie of Lady's Island for sharing a story about the Little Red Dog Foundation, which she founded, and the Kiwanis Club of Beaufort and how they helped a local hero.

Anne writes:

The Little Red Dog Foundation wants to thank a very special Marine who has sacrificed so much for our country.

The Little Red Dog Foundation gave its 200th special cycle to Staff Sgt. Pablo Barrios in honor of the Kiwanis Club of Beaufort at its weekly meeting Thursday.

The Kiwanis Club has been like family to the foundation, assembling our special cycles, helping with our operating expenses and so many other things that it is difficult to mention them all. Several years ago we honored the Kiwanis Club with our 100th cycle and only thought it appropriate to honor the club again with our 200th.

Since 2005, Little Red Dog primarily has been providing therapeutic cycles to disabled children, but this 200th recipient was unique.

The 200th cycle was given to one of Beaufort's heroes -- a Marine injured in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Pablo Barrios, 33, was at the end of his fourth tour of duty in Iraq when he was injured in February. Pablo described that fateful day with humor that can only come from a seasoned warrior.

He said it happened while he was sitting on top of an armored vehicle.

"I was sitting there with my machine gun when a blast came," he said. "It went through my right arm, going across my chest setting off all my ammunition on my chest and then exiting my left arm. I knew my arms were gone ... I was just worried about bleeding out. So, I slid myself off the top into the vehicle and all my guys started stuffing gauze everywhere they could."

He repeated, "Ma'am, I knew my arms were gone ... I just didn't want to bleed out ... I have little children at home.

"The next thing I know, I woke up in the hospital and see all this metal, and my first thought was that they have attached these hooks to my arms."

At this point in the conversation, Pablo's voice lit up as if a miracle had happened.

"Then I woke up again and realized 'I still have my arms' ... the metal was just hardware holding my arms together."

Pablo has been through 18 surgeries since February and goes to occupational hand therapy and physical therapy nearly every day.

Because Pablo's bone grafts must be kept stable, his new cycle is designed to keep any jarring motions to a minimum. The gears and brakes are on the left side because of the nerve damage in his right arm. Even with all his physical challenges, Pablo has a very positive attitude and is happy to have his arms and be alive.

Pablo was a guest speaker at the Kiwanis Club's meeting, telling the members about his time in Iraq, his massive injury and his rehabilitation. Julia Hetherington from Coastal Hand Therapy, Pablo's occupational therapist, also was at the meeting to describe Pablo's rehabilitation and the therapy he will continue to receive.

I hope Pablo knows how much we all appreciate what he has sacrificed for our country. A simple thank you is not enough for what Pablo has done for us, so I will say a million times over, "Thank you, Pablo."

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