Wheelchair van gives wounded vet freedom

Posted at 5:54 PM, Feb 19, 2016

"I remember the sound of a twig, hollow twig, breaking, snapping and I remember the pain,” said Sua Tuimalealiifano.

If you think your weaknesses make your weak, Sua Tuimalealiifano is proof they don't.

"I flew over the side, landed on my back,” he explained.

A Taliban ambush in Afghanistan left the Army Sergeant First Class counting the four limbs he can't use.

Now he and his family count his blessings.

"I remember thinking thank God it's a phone call because as military wives we all know that a knock on the door, is a whole different message,” said wife Shannon Tuimalealiifano.

The Special Ops ‘Jump Master’ tells me his wife and three children motivated him to recover since 2007 to compete as a wheelchair rugby athlete.

"For me, it's something I can look forward to do-- that I can do,” he said.

But traveling to practices and tournaments was always dependent on someone else's schedule. He was always torn between his recovery and his family.

"There's almost always a choice ok, we can either fit your equipment in here, depending on where we're going or we can fit the family so which one is it gonna be? And to know that we don't have to keep making that choice anymore,” said his wife.

Two non-profits 'Help Our Military Heroes' and 'Semper Fi Fund’ raised the money to buy a wheelchair accessible van made by Ride-Away in Tampa.

Sua can load into and drive the van on his own.

"It's awesome. There's no real words for it,” he said sitting in the driver’s seat.

It’s a ride that's freedom and strength for this wounded veteran and also for his family.

"It's been too long,” he said.