SAN ANTONIO – A retired Marine achieved a goal that should’ve been impossible — walking 205 miles in just 11 days, from Houston to San Antonio, with a prosthetic leg and a 50-pound rucksack.
Thanks to his determination and his resilience to show support for other wounded veterans, Marine Cpl. Nick Perales left his Houston home on foot and made it to the Brooke Army Medical Center’s Center for the Intrepid, in San Antonio.
He arrived at his destination on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
“I wanted to show people that it doesn’t matter what your situation is or what your perceived limitations may be,” Perales said in a statement. “You can always go a little bit farther. You can always go a little bit harder if you are willing to do it.”
Perales was wounded during his deployment in Afghanistan in February 2011. BAMC officials said he was a scout sniper and stepped on an improvised explosive device, causing him to lose his leg and sustain multiple other injuries.
Despite having felt “helpless and hopeless,” Perales said he survived and was able to get back on his feet, thanks to the BAMC medical and rehabilitation staff.
“There was a time in my life when I didn’t know if I could take another step forward,” Perales said. “I didn’t know if my life would continue on. It was because of the people here (BAMC) that gave me a different outlook on life. I’m so appreciative and grateful. They do so many amazing things. They give so many people hope and help.”
Perales’ recovery took several years as he underwent several surgeries and extensive rehabilitation. During that time, he said he gained some weight and was out of shape.
It wasn’t long before Perales decided to get back into fitness. Since that decision, he’s taken part in more than a dozen Spartan obstacle races through the New Mexico desert and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with other veterans, according to BAMC officials.
“For every season of my life, I always transition from one season to another with some kind of monumental journey,” Perales said.
He also launched his own online nutrition company prior to his trek from Houston.
“It was a big change, so I was thinking about what I was going to do to start this next season in my life,” he said. “The thought that came instantly to my head was I want to walk from my home in Houston back to the CFI (Center for the Intrepid).”
The CFI ultimately helped Perales change his life, and he said he wanted to help others in a similar way.
“It made me want to go all in on helping other people,” he said. “It felt right coming back to the place that ultimately gave me that outlook and made me want to continue serving my country and my community. It just felt right.”
Before his journey, Perales reached out to the CFI for assistance with a prosthetic leg. He worked with Chief of Prosthetics-Orthotics John Fergason to design a lighter weight leg and to have another support brace for his other leg, according to BAMC.
Perales didn’t make his trip to San Antonio alone. He walked 20 to 25 miles each day, but said he had some supporters join him along the way, with some walking 20, 40 or up to 50 miles with him.
“It was so meaningful, and it gives me a lot of gratitude,” Perales said.