Veterans Share Stories of Triumph at 11th Annual Turkey Trot for Heroes

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ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA) — Some Northwest Arkansas earned their thanksgiving meal this morning, all while honoring those who scarified everything for us. 

On Thursday morning Sheep Dog hosted its 11th annual Turkey Trot for Heroes in Rogers.

Veterans and community members ran together, passing by images and stories of loved ones who died heroes.

Two veterans in particular ran to spread the mission of an organization that changed their lives.

Seven years ago SSgt. Jose Luis Sanchez stepped on an IED in Afghanistan, changing his life forever. 

“I lost my leg from the knee down on the left side, and on my right leg was limb salvage. It was badly mangled up,” Sanchez said.

He couldn’t stand up more than six seconds or walk more than two feet, but after careful rehabilitation he’s now running forward.

In 2016 he ran the Boston Marathon holding an American flag, capturing the lasting image of American pride.

“I ran it in honor of them, and everybody, the Boston survivors, and everybody struggling. Through those adversities and challenges to show the human spirit of how far i could go, and it’s just my way of giving back,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez says physical fitness is what kept him going, and the support of Sheep Dog Impact Assistance changed his outlook.

“For so long I was pushing everyone away but they welcomed me and it was an eye-opener to allow people into my life.”

Aaron Mankin shares a similar story.

“In 2003 I enlisted in the marine corps and did a tour in Iraq. I survived an ied and came home early. I’ve been in the fight ever since,” Mankin said.

Today, his first time running a 5k since since he was enlisted in the marine corps a decade ago.

“It gives us an opportunity to focus on those who make days like this possible,” Mankin said.

Both men connected by unimaginable tragedies, using it to empower other sheep dogs.

“Being around good people and being around people that are do good and are serving others helped alleviate that darkness,” Sanchez said.

All of the money raised is going towards the Sheep Dog Christmas outreach program, giving children of struggling vets and first responders gifts of toys, clothing, and necessities to open at Christmas.

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