Tag Archives: Prince Harry

WCAP NCO named to Impact25 list of women who have made a difference

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

It’s been a momentous year for Sgt. Elizabeth Marks.

The combat medic and U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program swimmer spent the summer garnering international headlines for a grand gesture while winning four gold medals in swimming at the Invictus Games. That led to an appearance at the ESPYs, the awards show that recognizes sports’ highest achievements, to receive the Pat Tillman Award for Service. She followed that up by smashing a world record and winning two medals during her first trip to the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The list of hardware is already impressive. But it received another addition earlier this week.

Marks was named to the ESPN Women’s Impact25 Athletes and Influencers list Tuesday. The list highlights the top 25 women who made the greatest impact in sports and the societies in which they live. Marks joined names such as Simone Biles, the Olympic gymnastics gold medalist who was also the magazine’s Woman of the Year; Kathryn Smith, the National Football League’s first female full-time coach; and Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee.

“It’s extremely special to even be mentioned,” Marks said on Twitter about being an Impact25 nominee.

Her unveiling as an honoree was marked by an essay written by Prince Harry. The British royal was at the center of the moment that opened the world’s eyes to Marks.

In May, she made international headlines for her gesture at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida.

Marks was decorated with her fourth gold medal at the Games by Prince Harry, who created the competition, an international Paralympic-style, multi-sport event, which allows wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans to compete. After he placed the medal around Marks’ neck, the 26-year-old gave the award back.

Marks wanted Prince Harry to deliver the medal to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England, where she spent the duration of the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014. Marks traveled to London in the fall of that year to compete in the Games when she collapsed with respiratory distress syndrome. Her condition worsened and she was eventually hospitalized and placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, life support to help her breathe. She missed the Games, but Marks said she was fortunate to come back alive. She said donating one of her medals was the only way she could think of to repay the hospital staff. Her request was honored June 1.

“This is an incredible achievement by any standards,” Prince Harry wrote about Marks’ appearance in the Impact25 list. “And I know this is how she wants to be defined, by her achievements and her abilities. But as an Army sergeant wounded in service to her country, her journey to get to this point has been remarkable. To me she epitomizes the courage, resilience and determination of our servicemen and women. Using sport to fight back from injury in the most remarkable way, she sums up what the Invictus Games spirit is all about.

For Marks, her ordeal in 2014 wasn’t the first time she had to endure an arduous hospital stay. In 2010, after suffering devastating injuries in Iraq, she grew nervous about the words being bandied about her such as “end of service” or “retirement.” Marks called her father to vent her frustrations. The former Marine told his daughter to write what was most important to her on a piece of paper. She scrawled “FFD” in pencil on a torn sheet of paper. The acronym stood for “fit for duty.” She was deemed fit for duty on July 3, 2012, after several painful surgeries and exhaustive rehabilitation. Marks has not stopped trying to live up to the notion, resuming her job as a medic while also competing for WCAP.

She was back in the pool one month after her ordeal in England. Two months after leaving the hospital, she broke an American record in the SB9, a disability swimming classification, 200-meter breaststroke. Less than two years later, she set a new world record in the 50-meter breaststroke in the SB7 division.

“I was told it’d be six months before I got into a pool again,” Marks told the audience at the ESPYs where she became the first active-duty Soldier to receive the Pat Tillman Award. “I got into a pool about a month out of my coma. Without those physicians, without their service, I would’ve died. I hope that my service could eventually mean that to someone.”

Marks received a standing ovation after accepting the award on the stage of the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. She thanked her father and the Pat Tillman Foundation for turning an “absolute tragedy into a triumph.” She also thanked her fellow injured service members throughout the world for their support. She said any success she found at the Rio Paralympics would be because of them.

And find success she did. Marks broke her own world record in the breaststroke to win the gold medal. She then had a heroic swim in her leg of the 4×100 medley relay to help the Americans win a bronze medal after getting off to a difficult start.

The feat seemed to cap off a storied sports year for Marks. But this week proved otherwise. And that should suit her desire to inspire her fellow Soldiers just fine.

WCAP NCO forced to skip last race, but still closes strong at Rio Paralympics

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks bowed out of what would have been her final race at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

But that didn’t rob fans of seeing her finish her inaugural Games in impressive fashion.

The Paralympic swimmer from the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program of Fort Carson, Colorado, said Saturday on Twitter that she would not participate in the SM8 200-meter individual medley competition, which was scheduled for that day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, due to an undisclosed medical issue. Her message exhibited the unselfishness that has garnered Marks so much attention this year.

“I didn’t have my best to give, but another girl might,” the tweet stated.

But Marks’ best was definitely on display the previous night.

On Friday, Marks swam the second leg of the women’s 4×100 medley relay. The Americans finished in third place behind Great Britain and Australia. While the finish wasn’t golden, the fact that the U.S. team was able to reach the podium at all was an impressive feat given its difficult start. And Marks began turning the tide.

Hannah Aspden struggled as she swam the opening backstroke leg of the medley. She fell about five meters behind the pace of the leaders and came to the end of her 100-meter swim in fifth place, with sixth-place Japan not far behind. That’s when Marks went to work.

The 26-year-old swam the breaststroke leg, the same event in which she had already claimed a Paralympic gold medal. Marks’ effort during the medley was frenzied. She managed to speed into fourth place past the Netherlands before the turn. From there she closed the gap on third-place Canada to less than 10 meters. Marks did this despite being in the pool with five swimmers who compete in faster disability classifications. She would finish the leg with a time of 1:28.52, not even a half-second slower than her winning time of 1:28.13 in the SB7 100-meter breaststroke the previous weekend, which set a new world record.

It was prime position for her teammates Elizabeth Smith and Michelle Konkoly to wrest third-place away from Canada. It also ended up being the end to her time in Brazil. Marks finished the Games with a gold and bronze medal, fitting hardware for a Soldier and competitor who has been in the headlines throughout the year.

Marks gained international attention earlier this year after asking Prince Harry to take one of the gold medals she won at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida. Marks wanted the British royal to give the medal to the English hospital that saved her life. In 2014, while traveling to the Invictus Games in London, Marks fell ill and required a lifesaving procedure at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge. She missed the Games that year, but said she was lucky to come home alive. Offering her medal to the hospital was the best way she could say “thank you.” The gesture caught the world’s attention, culminating with her being awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the ESPYs in July.

Her ordeal in England wasn’t the first time Marks underwent a stint in the hospital. She suffered bilateral hip injuries while deployed to Iraq as a combat medic in 2010. Those injuries are what pushed Marks to the pool in the first place. She has previously stated that she hopes her accomplishments can offer faith and optimism to her fellow wounded Soldiers.

Now, armed with medals earned on the grandest stage in sports, it appears Marks will remain a beacon of hope for quite some time.

WCAP NCO’s story of courage shared with sports superstars at ESPY Awards

By PABLO VILLA
NCO Journal

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks is more than merely fit for duty. She is a testament to service. On Wednesday night, the biggest names in sports were introduced to her story.

Marks, a combat medic and member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete program of Fort Carson, Colorado, was presented with the Pat Tillman Award for Service during the ESPYs. The awards show, which recognizes grand sports achievements, aired on ABC.

Marks is the first active-duty Soldier to receive the award. She was awarded for using swimming to recover from debilitating hip injuries she received in Iraq in 2010. Marks has not only parlayed her newfound sport to great heights — last week she was named to the 2016 U.S. Paralympic swim team that will compete later this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has also inspired hordes of her fellow Soldiers.

“I have struggled for a long time with survival guilt,” Marks said in a video shown to the audience before the award presentation. “I felt selfish for wanting to go and compete when I could do other things to help people. I started getting mail and having people reach out to me who had been injured saying, ‘I saw your story and I wanted to go swim,’ and that, for me, was better than any medal I could ever win.”

But win she has. Marks is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100-meter breaststroke. But beyond her prowess in the pool, Marks has also displayed immense gratitude and humility. That was no more evident than earlier this year when she made international headlines for her gesture at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida.

Marks was decorated with her fourth gold medal at the Games by Prince Harry, the British royal who created the competition, an international Paralympic-style, multi-sport event, which allows wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans to compete. After he placed the medal around Marks’ neck, the 25-year-old gave the award back.

Marks wanted Prince Harry to deliver the medal to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England, where she spent the duration of the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014. Marks traveled to London in the fall of that year to compete in the Games when she collapsed with respiratory distress syndrome. Her condition worsened and she was eventually hospitalized and placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, life support to help her breathe. She missed the Games, but Marks said she was fortunate to come back alive. She said donating one of her medals was the only way she could think of to repay the hospital staff. Her request was honored June 1.

For Marks, it wasn’t the first time she had to endure an arduous hospital stay. In 2010, after suffering devastating injuries in Iraq, she grew nervous about the words being bandied about her such as “end of service” or “retirement.” Marks called her father to vent her frustrations. The former Marine told his daughter to write what was most important to her on a piece of paper. She scrawled “FFD” in pencil on a torn sheet of paper. The acronym stood for “fit for duty.” She was deemed fit for duty on July 3, 2012, after several painful surgeries and exhaustive rehabilitation. Marks has not stopped trying to live up to the notion, resuming her job as a medic while also competing for WCAP.

She was back in the pool one month after her ordeal in England. Two months after leaving the hospital, she broke an American record in the SB9, a disability swimming classification, 200-meter breaststroke. Less than two years later, she set a new world record in the 50-meter breaststroke in the SB7 division.

“I was told it’d be six months before I got into a pool again,” Marks said during the video. “I got into a pool about a month out of my coma. Without those physicians, without their service, I would’ve died. I hope that my service could eventually mean that to someone.”

Marks received a standing ovation after accepting the award on the stage of the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. She thanked her father and the Pat Tillman Foundation for turning an “absolute tragedy into a triumph.” She also thanked her fellow injured service members throughout the world for their support. She said any success she finds at the Rio Paralympics will be because of them. Marks closed with an emotional parting message.

“If you’re hurting, whether it’s mental or emotional, if ever you think you’re alone, you’re not,” she said. “And if ever you think no one cares, I do. Please come join me behind the blocks.”

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks gave an emotional speech after receiving the Pat Tillman Award for Service during the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)
Sgt. Elizabeth Marks gave an emotional speech after receiving the Pat Tillman Award for Service during the ESPY Awards on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program)

WCAP NCO, 2016 Paralympian will receive Pat Tillman Award for Service at ESPYs

NCO JOURNAL STAFF REPORT

The accolades keep coming for Sgt. Elizabeth Marks.

Marks, a combat medic and member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program of Fort Carson, Colorado, just finished securing her spot during the weekend on the U.S. Paralympic swim team that will compete at the 2016 Rio Paralympics in September. The honor, the first for a WCAP swimmer, comes less than two months after Marks made international headlines for a gracious gesture after claiming her fourth gold medal at the 2016 Invictus Games.

This week Marks — who is ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100-meter breaststroke — will be in the limelight again when she is presented with the Pat Tillman Award for Service during the 2016 ESPYs in Los Angeles. The awards show, which recognizes grand sports achievements, will be broadcast live at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday on ABC.

“The Pat Tillman Award for Service honors those individuals who inspire us with their service and selflessness,” said Connor Schell, senior vice president, ESPN Films and Original Entertainment, who oversees The ESPYs. “Sgt. Elizabeth Marks — this year’s recipient — is an athlete of remarkable courage and perseverance who has made extraordinary sacrifices in her own life to help others and serve our country.  She represents the best of our country and we are proud to present her with this award.”

Marks grabbed worldwide attention in May after she was decorated with her final gold medal at the Invictus Games in Orlando. The award was presented by Prince Harry, the British royal who created the competition, an international Paralympic-style, multi-sport event, which allows wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans to compete. After he placed the medal around Marks’ neck, the 25-year-old gave the award back.

Marks wanted Prince Harry to deliver the medal to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England, where she spent the duration of the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014. Marks traveled to London in the fall of that year to compete in the Games when she collapsed with respiratory distress syndrome. Her condition worsened and she was eventually hospitalized and placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, life support to help her breathe. She missed the Games, but Marks said she was fortunate to come back alive. She said donating one of her medals was the only way she could think of to repay the hospital staff.

“It’s the only thing I could give to thank them for saving my life,” Marks said.

Her request was honored June 1 when Harry presented Marks’ gold medal from the 100-meter freestyle event to doctors and nurses from Papworth Hospital during a ceremony at Kensington Palace in London.

Marks’ gesture, along with the courage she has shown in the face of adversity as well as her unwavering commitment to her country, is in line with the ideals of the Pat Tillman Award for Service, said Marie Tillman, president and co-founder of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

“Pat lived his life with passion, intensity and a commitment to help others live up to their potential,” Marie Tillman said. “As a combat medic and now world-class para-swimmer, Sgt. Marks embodies the same strong sense of duty – challenging herself, fellow soldiers and her teammates, physically and mentally, to push limits and achieve their best in spite of injury or other setbacks. In Pat’s name, we’re proud to present the Tillman Award to Sgt. Marks for her service, leadership and incredible poise as she represents Team USA.”

The award was established in 2014 to commemorate the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger’s legacy. It is meant to honor an individual with a strong connection to sports who has served others in a way that echoes the legacy of Tillman. Marks will be presented with the award in conjunction with the Pat Tillman Foundation, a national leader in providing academic support and scholarships to veterans, active-duty service members and their spouses. Past honorees include U.S. Paralympic gold medal sled hockey player and Purple Heart recipient Josh Sweeney (2014); and former Notre Dame basketball player, Iraq war veteran and Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (2015).

Marks joined the Army at age 17 in July 2008 in Prescott Valley, Arizona. She began swimming in 2012. The water was a means of rehabilitation for the bilateral hip injuries she sustained in 2010 while deployed to Iraq. Marks underwent three surgeries to restructure her hips and regain enough mobility to walk. Swimming was not only a therapeutic endeavor but a challenge that Marks immediately fell in love with. Four months after participating in her first competition she became the first female Paralympic athlete in WCAP.

“I’m just grateful,” Marks told the Army News Service. “I’m excited that I get the chance to represent the United States of America’s colors in any way that I’m allowed.”

John Cena will host Wednesday’s telecast, which will be at the Microsoft Theater. The list of award presenters includes Stephen Curry, Lindsey Vonn, Dwyane Wade and J.J. Watt.

Prince Harry returns WCAP NCO’s gold medal to British hospital that saved her life

NCO JOURNAL STAFF REPORT

A Soldier-athlete’s unprecedented request has been fulfilled.

Sgt. Elizabeth Marks, a combat medic and member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program based at Fort Carson, Colorado, asked Prince Harry to deliver one of the gold medals she won at last month’s Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, to the staff of the British hospital that saved her life.

Today, the British royal made good on that promise, presenting Marks’ gold medal from the 100-meter freestyle event to doctors and nurses from Cambridge’s Papworth Hospital during a ceremony at Kensington Palace in London.

Marks won four gold medals in the swimming competition of the 2016 Invictus Games. Her final medal was presented by Prince Harry, who created the competition, an international Paralympic-style, multi-sport event, which allows wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans to compete. After he placed the medal around Marks’ neck, the 25-year-old gave the award back, a grand gesture that made international headlines.

Marks wanted Prince Harry to give the medal to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, England, where she spent the duration of the inaugural Invictus Games in 2014. Marks traveled to London in the fall of that year to compete in the Games when she collapsed with respiratory distress syndrome. Her condition worsened and she was eventually hospitalized and placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, life support to help her breathe. She missed the Games, but Marks said she was fortunate to come back alive. She said donating one of her medals was the only way she could think of to repay the hospital staff.

The BBC reports that the prince told those assembled Wednesday how Marks had described Papworth as “undoubtedly the best place for someone having this condition.”

“From all of us, it’s just a huge, huge thank you to all of you,” Prince Harry said.

A Papworth spokesman told the BBC they were hoping to launch an Elizabeth Marks Fund to help finance the development of equipment and support patients treated at the hospital’s critical care unit where the medal will go on display.

Two months after leaving the British hospital, Marks broke an American record in the SB9, a disability swimming classification, 200-meter breaststroke. Earlier this year she set a new world record in the 50-meter breaststroke in the SB7 division during the first day of the Jimi Flowers Classic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, serving notice to the world that she will be a force at this year’s Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is currently ranked No. 1 in the world in the 100-meter breaststroke.

Marks joined the Army at age 17 in July 2008 in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Her goal was to care for injured Soldiers as a combat medic, a role she carried out until she was injured.