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Wounded Marines Running Their Way to Recovery at Fourth Annual Pat's Run

- Challenged Athlete Foundation Members Participating Courtesy of TriWest -

PHOENIX, April 16 /PRNewswire/ -- After sacrificing their limbs while fighting to protect America's freedoms in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marines Chris Chandler and Brandon Mendez refused to let their injuries diminish their spirits. Both received prosthetic limbs, returned to active duty and are participating in Pat's Run courtesy of TriWest Healthcare Alliance.

As members of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), Chandler and Mendez will join nearly 15,000 other runners and walkers at the fourth annual Pat's Run on Saturday, April 19 at Tempe Town Lake in Tempe, Ariz. TriWest is providing transportation, lodging and race entries for the CAF athletes.

"We at TriWest admire and are inspired by the resiliency of Chris and Brandon," said TriWest President & CEO David J. McIntyre. "In honor of the late Pat Tillman, TriWest is proud to sponsor these Marines who possess indomitable spirits having triumphed over combat injuries."

The timed run begins at 7 a.m. and finishes around 9 a.m. on the 42-yard line of Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University. The walk or non-timed run begins at 7:30 a.m. Kids under the age of 12 are also encouraged to register for free to run the 0.42 mile Kids Run. Proceeds from the event benefit the Pat Tillman Foundation's Leadership Through Action(TM), which empowers individuals to make a positive impact in their community.

Chris Chandler "Moving" On

Staff Sgt. Chandler lost his left leg below the knee in 2001 when he stepped on a landmine while providing security for an explosives ordinance disposal unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In the wake of the injury, the Aurora, Colo. native made history by becoming the first Service member to graduate from jumping school and return to active duty after receiving a prosthetic leg. He is currently based at the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) in San Diego.

"I think any obstacle can be overcome if you believe in yourself," Chandler says.

Brandon Mendez Overcoming Obstacles

Lance Cpl. Mendez was injured by a suicide bomber while on check point in Iraq. As a result, he lost his left hand and sustained severe fractures in both feet.

Mendez is also based at the USMC in San Diego. He plans on moving back to Orange County, Calif. to attend college for criminal justice after completing his tour of duty.

"You have to go on with life and bounce back," Mendez said. "I wasn't going to feel sorry for myself or get depressed about my situation. You can give up on things or make the best of what you have. I chose the latter."

Challenged Athletes Foundation Helps Wounded Fulfill Dreams

Since the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism, more than 27,000 U.S. military personnel have been wounded -- many suffering traumatic, permanent injuries. To help these service members get back into sports, CAF provides them with training, the specialized equipment and mentoring they need. The organization often relies on individuals and companies to help with costs associated with helping the wounded warriors fulfill their dreams of competing again. To learn about CAF, visit

Pat's Run Commemorates Fallen Hero

Pat's Run celebrates the life of Pat Tillman, who left a promising NFL career to join the Army and fight in the war against terrorism. Tillman, an Arizona State University graduate and former Arizona Cardinal, was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. For more on Pat's Run and the Pat Tillman Foundation, visit or

About TriWest Healthcare Alliance TriWest Healthcare Alliance partners with the Department of Defense to do "Whatever It Takes" to support the health care needs of 2.9 million members of America's military family. A Phoenix-based corporation, TriWest provides access to cost-effective, high-quality health care in the 21-state TRICARE West Region, the 2007 TRICARE Region of the year. TriWest is a proud Corporate Team Member of America Supports You. Visit for more information.

SOURCE TriWest Healthcare Alliance
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