Afghanistan, 2007: U.S. Army Special Forces member Jarrid Collins is carrying out a mission when disaster strikes. "I took a mortar hit, but honestly it didn't seem that bad," the former Green Beret tells us. "I got peppered with shrapnel, took a fall down some steps, but when I got back up everything was still attached so I kept going."
A year later, the effects of that mortar hit began to emerge. "I started having all sorts of complications in my left leg," Jarrid tells us. Months later, with things "still not right," Jarrid was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he learned he needed emergency back surgery. "I'd apparently herniated some discs in my back during that fall in Afghanistan but hadn't realized it," Jarrid says. "The hope was the back surgery would restore function to my left leg and life would go on. But that didn't happen."
Instead, "things just kept getting worse," Jarrid says. "By that point, I'd lost the hair on my leg, my toenails were falling out, and my skin was blue."
Left with "no other option or hope," Jarrid was referred to Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus. "Mayo brought me in and looked at everything from left to right — they explored every little possibility," Jarrid says. What doctors found was that Jarrid had chronic venous regurgitation and arterial regurgitation. "I also had neuro-dysfunction and a definite lack of lymphatic function." Those complex terms essentially meant that Jarrid and his family had a difficult decision to make.
After talking through the options with his care team, "we decided amputation would give me the best opportunity to live a full life and to live life on my terms," Jarrid says.
Today that full life means spearheading the "Breaking Bread Tour," a hunger awareness effort that has Jarrid and others running, biking and hand-cycling from California to Florida. The tour is part of Operation BBQ Relief, an organization that provides meals to displaced residents and emergency personnel during times of natural and other disasters. Jarrid's aim on the Breaking Bread Tour is to bring awareness to hunger by connecting with, inspiring and serving communities "through the healing power of BBQ," according to the website, and "to break bread with as many people as possible," Jarrid tells us.
With the help of some "amazing partners," Jarrid and his BBQ crew will roll their smokers along the route, stopping in eight communities along the way. At each stop, they'll prepare and serve thousands of hot meals before setting up shop for their final barbeque extravaganza in Tampa. "We'll be feeding all of the athletes and their families during this year's Warrior Games," Jarrid says.
One of Jarrid's first stops on the tour was Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, where Jarrid's occupational therapist and friend, Rob Semingson, was waiting. "He said, 'Mayo needs to be a part of this … I need to be a part of this,'" Jarrid says. "It was so amazing for me to have him there at Mayo with us because I'm so thankful for everything he's done to help me since my amputation."
Semingson couldn't be prouder. "It's so rewarding to see how well Jarrid's doing now and to see the impact he's having on people's lives," he tells us. "I'm very thankful to have had a small part in that."
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