Wounded Warrior Run set for May 25 in LL

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The Wounded Warriors Project is dear to Mary Tallouzi’s heart. She saw her vibrant son, Daniel Tallouzi, go off to Iraq when he was 22, only to return in an open-eyed coma with severe head injuries.

The Wounded Warrior Project raises money to provide services to help injured soldiers move forward in their lives into a positive future.

Deborah Fox-News-Bulletin photo: Jubilee Los Lunas resident and marathon runner Jim Schnitzler, left, and Wounded Warrior Project spokeswoman Mary Tallouzi, right, are proud to support the third annual Wounded Warrior Project Memorial Day Run set for Saturday, May 25.

On Saturday, May 25, Jubilee Los Lunas and the Muscle and Fitness Center are sponsoring the third annual Wounded Warrior Project Memorial Day Run, coordinated by marathon runner Jim Schnitzler.

The run will include a variety of courses to accommodate anyone who wants to participate. Individual donations are also welcome.

Entries for the run start at $15 to $35 for a children’s walk, a 5K run/walk, a 10K run, a backpack and team run. Registration fees are $5 more the day of the event.

The 10K course starts at 7:30 a.m. at Mitchell’s Starlight Theater, 2226 Sun Ranch Village Loop, and travels through Huning Ranch and the Jubilee subdivision.

The 5K run and walk starts at 8 a.m.; the kids’ run starts at 9 a.m.

The national program doesn’t accept state or federal funding, and all proceeds, minus event expenses, go to programs for injured soldiers of wars since Sept. 11, 2001.

Mary Tallouzi’s son is one of those soldiers.

Army Sgt. Daniel Tallouzi was a helicopter electrician, and his aviation post was bombed by insurgents.

“Shrapnel just tore through the pods, through the buildings,” said his mother. “One piece of shrapnel the size of a quarter caught him behind the right ear and penetrated his brain. It did not exit, but just zig-zagged and wreaked havoc on a 23-year-old brain.”

Daniel could not speak or move, a far cry from the 6-foot-4, handsome football player she knew. She quit her job to follow him from hospital to hospital as his advocate.

It was when they were at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that she was approached by representatives of the Wounded Warrior Project.

They walked in with a backpack and told her she and her son were not alone, she said.

The WWP representative told her about Daniel’s benefits and services, so she would know what was available for him.

At first, she was reluctant to listen to him because she was so busy taking care of Daniel.

Heavily sedated, her son wasn’t awake, and she didn’t know if he was aware she was there.

With the representative’s help, she went to the doctor to talk about different medication that would allow Daniel to be awake.

She had read a story about a young man who woke up after being in a coma for two years. He was also in the Army, and she hoped, as only a parent can, that the same might happen to Daniel.

“The first time he was aware of himself, and maybe his surroundings it was so noticeable, because Dan’s jaw and his face was so lax all the time,” Mary said. “No emotion was showing … and then I noticed something.”

Daniel began to look at the ceiling and around the room.

“And then I saw what it was,” she said. “His face was chiseled, his jaw had tightened and there he was!”

Unfortunately, Daniel did not survive his injuries. The brain damage was so severe it disrupted the function of other organs. He died in 2009.

Now, Mary has found a purpose fulfilling Daniel’s legacy by being a spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project.

“They need to know that there is something waiting for them,” she said. “We have 18 programs right now that are absolutely fantastic. It’s not just about the warrior, it’s about the family. It’s about the extension of that warrior, because it affects everyone.”

Registration brochures for the run are available at Main Street Muscle and Fitness Center, 435 Main St., and the Los Lunas Transportation Center, 751 Juan Perea Road., or register online at www.newmexicosportsonline.com or www.active.com.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.