Mike Roman, a Missouri man who overcame the loss of a leg to become an inspirational symbol for millions of people who suffer from chronic pain, has been nominated for the Wounded Warrior Project’s Carry Forward Awards. Roman died March 28 from cancer at the age of 45.
The Carry Forward Awards honor volunteers, service members and their families who support and raise awareness about the nation’s wounded veterans. Roman is one of nine people who have been nominated.
In 1994, Roman tore a ligament in his right knee. While undergoing surgery to repair the knee, he contracted a severe staph infection and doctors had to amputate his leg above the knee, the first of dozens of surgeries that left him with Phantom Limb Pain. Roman’s entire right leg was eventually amputated in an unsuccessful effort to control his chronic pain.
Roman endured excruciating pain on a daily basis. He fell into a deep depression, became addicted to painkillers, and could not get out of bed for more than a few hours at a time. His life took a dramatic turn for the better when a spinal cord stimulator was implanted along his spine to help control his pain. The stimulator “tricks” the brain into feeling pain as a soothing or tingling sensation.
Roman overcame his addiction and went on to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a race car driver. He began touring the country sharing the story of his personal battle against chronic pain as a spokesperson for Race Against Pain, an educational program created by Advanced Bionics and Boston Scientific.
It was at this time that Roman became involved with the Wounded Warriors Project (WWP). Although not a veteran himself, Roman was intimately familiar with pain, addiction and other medical issues that many wounded warriors face He visited veterans at military hospitals around the country, served as a motivational speaker at WWP events and testified before Congress on behalf of veterans. He also increased awareness of the WWP by carrying its logo on his race car, uniform, and race suits.
Roman inspired thousands of disabled veterans to overcome their own obstacles through his story of hope and determination.
If you’d like to vote for Mike Roman or any of the deserving nominees you can cast your vote here. Voting is open to all members of the public until July 31. Winners will be notified August 6th and honored at a WWP celebration and fundraising event in October.