Sam Cila – “IF YOU NEVER STEP IN THE ARENA, IF YOU REMAIN FEARFUL, YOU WILL NEVER BECOME GREAT.”
Long after he left Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army, Sam Cila continues to overcome adversity and works hard to help others fight their own battles. Sam has shared his personal Fight Laws with us, and we know we can learn from them.
Sam, we honor you, as you have made many sacrifices for our freedom. We are proud to have you as part of our Everybodyfights community, and we thank you for your service to our country. Your story inspires us, and we know it will inspire all who read it.
SAM CILA’S FIGHT STORY
In 2001, I was a husband, a father of two, and was set with a career in the Department of Corrections. When the tragic events of 9/11 occurred, I felt the strong need to serve our great country. My father was in the marines, and my grandfather was in the army. To me, enlisting in the military was a no-brainer. Story by Sam Cila…
I hit the ground in Iraq, early September 2004. Like most soldiers I quickly saw the true face of war. On July 4, 2005, I was patrolling an area of Baghdad that was known to be a hotspot for IEDs and car bombs. That day we spotted one. We started to try to find where the triggerman was hiding, and we walked right on top of it. He detonated the bomb. We were ambushed. I was pretty severely injured. The whole front of my arm was gone. It was bad. I was near death, and was saved by my medic and my unbelievably heroic team.
Once I was home I received over 40 surgeries to help repair some of the damage sustained from the bomb. The blast blew out my left side, taking with it my brachial artery and almost all of my left bicep and tricep. Because of the amount of nerve loss to my upper arm, my hand was now considered a secondary injury. I spent three years fighting a never-ending battle. I took every opportunity available to me to try and fight the inevitable amputation.
In December 2008, despite my valiant efforts, my left hand had to be amputated. Now my next fight – to overcome adversity, to re-identify myself as a husband, father and athlete – was about to begin. (Sam Cila)
My son was worried about me being injured, but he was also just as happy that I was home. Being home wasn’t easy for me though. I went through about a year and a half, depressed and miserable. I just sat back and let everything pass me by. No one could help me with what I was dealing with inside. I knew there was a problem. I just wasn’t sure how to fix it.
I realized that as macho as you think you are as a soldier, a fighting machine, this is not a fight one can do alone. A good friend of mine encouraged me to check out the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound. This program is geared towards American military personnel, veterans and first responders with physical challenges. It gave me an opportunity to engage in competitive athletic events, while providing me with the resources, training and equipment I would need. I started to become much more physically active, even competing in triathlons. I now have a tremendous circle of friends from this organization who essentially changed our lives.
I now own a crossfit gym (Crossfit Impervious), and speak to many different organizations about my story, hoping to help others with their fight. I call it “Take My Hand.” I talk about fear, accepting challenges, and the importance of having great teammates who will hold you accountable and not expect excuses.
I’m much happier, much more confident, and in turn my whole family is happier. My son calls me his role model. To be near death, to come back home and be with the family, makes you appreciate life that much more. We know that every day is a gift.
SAM’S FIGHT LAWS:
- Everyone’s pain, suffering, challenges and adversity is unique to each of us.
- Never think those things are greater or less than the next person’s.
- When you are prepared, when you have teammates that hold us to high standards and refuse to make excuses for us, you never see a situation as no way out. If you never step in the arena, if you remain fearful, you will never become great.
- No one likes to lose. No one likes to fail, feel pain or suffer. It’s in those times when we need to draw strength from deep within ourselves, while at the same time looking to our left and right to see who we are going to battle with.
- When we as a team are committed to the same ethos and core principles, no situation is endless. It may not be easy, it may hurt, you may fail…
Make no mistake about it YOU WILL FAIL, WE ALL FAIL! When you find yourself laying on the road in Baghdad dying, or sitting alone in your office ready to give in – its in those times that we need a teammate to say “I got you”, or maybe you need to be prepared to reach out and say to a teammate “TAKE MY HAND”.
#everybodyfights #fightitforward Sam Cila