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Great Comebacks® Program Recognizes National Award Winners
Date:6/5/2011

d to quickly undergo chemotherapy and radiation and was told he needed surgery.  

"A day before surgery I found out I was going to have an ostomy and I didn't know what that was. I wondered, 'Am I going to be able to do all the things I used to do?'" recalled Wielgus.

Wielgus began to recover from his surgery and chemotherapy treatments only to end up back in the hospital a year later when he developed peripheral neuropathy—permanent damage to the nerves in his hands and feet. He was inspired by his swimming family and wife, Nancy, to continue the active lifestyle he enjoyed prior to surgery despite this new challenge. Soon, he was able to resume working at USA Swimming and as CEO of the USA Swimming Foundation, which provides financial support for swimmers of all ages and advocates for water safety. Wielgus traveled to Beijing to encourage the 2008 U.S. Swim Team and continues traveling 25 weekends a year as part of his role with USA Swimming.

"My illness has made me much more patient, tolerant and understanding and I now look for ways to reach out and support others who are confronting physical and emotional challenges," said Wielgus. Wielgus, now 60, resides in Colorado Springs, CO and has four children.

LTC (R) Justin F. Blum, Tony Snow Public Service Award Recipient

The words "I can't" are just not part of Justin Blum's vocabulary. Justin, now retired from the Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, received a permanent ostomy at the age of 40 following a 21-year battle with ulcerative colitis and a diagnosis of early stage colon cancer, but he didn't give up on his service to others or the nation.

Only three months after surgery, Justin was walking nine miles each day to prepare for the army's physical fitness test, which he was able to pass and continue serving in active duty. Though no longer on active duty, he has been in uniform for more than 40 years, serving as the Senior Army Instructor of
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