Post by Laura Castro-Spencer
On January 27, 2016 Eric McElvenny spoke at ASI’s Eagle Talk. A new speaker series developed by Business & Economics students, where community leaders inspire and connect with Cal State LA students.
Eric McElvenny lives his life in constant motion. Whether it was playing sports as a kid or during his time in the U.S. Naval Academy, there’s always something he’s striving towards. It’s his constant need for progress and advancement that makes it easy to see to see why he became the leader of his team during his tours of Afghanistan. There was a moment in his life where everything seemed to slow down. On December 9, 2011, during Eric’s third tour of Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). The resulting injury left Eric with his right leg being amputated below the knee.
"I remember it was a peaceful day, and me and my guys were patrolling the village,” said McElvenny, “After the explosion I didn’t feel any pain. There was a ringing in my ears, and I think that was the reason everything slowed down, but I was conscious throughout all of it.” Thanks to the help of his fellow soldiers, Eric’s bleeding was controlled and he was soon flown to safety. He was safe, but the events that would soon change his life were now in motion. Eric McElvenny lives his life in constant motion.
I've learned to be an Ironman in everything I do.
McElvenny was hospitalized until he was ready to begin walking on his prosthetic leg. Although he had the support of his family and friends, he felt a loss of identity after the accident. He had gone from a soldier to an amputee veteran in a matter of seconds. It wasn’t until he received an email from his old boss asking when would he run his first marathon that Eric’s need for progress was rekindled. Eric McElvenny lives his life in constant motion.
"At first I thought, what a jerk! But I knew that [my boss] was challenging me,” said McElvenny. From that email his life began to move forward again. Instead of going to physical therapy for four times a week, he went six times a week. Instead of dwelling over the loss of his leg, McElvenny found the strength to recover and move forward. On February 9, 2012, exactly two months after the explosion, McElvenny was walking again. Eric McElvenny lives his life in constant motion.
A goal has a plan to achieve it and a dream is a goal without the action.
Eric believes that there’s a difference between setting goals and dreaming. A goal has a plan to achieve it and a dream is a goal without the action. Once back on his feet, he slowly began training to complete in an Ironman Triathlon—his new goal. This triathlon consists of swimming 2.4 miles, bike riding 112 miles, and running 26.2 miles. “I knew if I said ‘walking again’ would be my new goal, I would do it. I needed to set a higher goal for [myself],” said McElvenny, “Perseverance is making the goal and staying true. Discipline is not turning off your alarm clock at five thirty in the morning for your workout.” Eric McElvenny lives his life in constant motion.
On October 12, 2013 McElvenny completed the Ironman Triathlon in 11 hours 54 minutes, and 19 seconds. Since then he has completed three more Ironman Triathlons and nine other marathons. His new goal is to be the fastest amputee Ironman competitor along with being an excellent husband, father, and friend. “I’ve learned to be an Ironman in everything I do. I want to be an Ironman when it comes to parenting, being a husband, and everything I do because now I know I can.” Eric McElvenny lives his life in constant motion.
For more information about Eric, please visit http://www.ericmcelvenny.com