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MANNMay08p32-37Sports.qxd

4/18/08

10:41 AM

Page 32

Superman

S S u p e r m a n l i v e s i n M a n s f i e l d . H e f l o a t s , h e f l i e s , h e d e f i e s g r a v i t y a n d a l l w i t h o u t a c a p e . H e i s r e t i r e d A r m y C p l . J o n a t h a n M e r c h a n t , a n o u t s t a n d i n g r o l e m o d e l a n d c h a r m i n g m a n , w h o s e r v e d h i s n a t i o n , i n c l u d i n g a t o u r i n t h e v o l a t i l e B o s n i a - H e r z e g o v i n a i n 1 9 9 9 . H e r e t u r n e d s a f e l y h o m e o n l y t o b e p a r a l y z e d i n a c a r a c c i d e n t j u s t t h r e e m o n t h s l a t e r .

While riding as a passenger, his neck was broken when the driver lost control of the vehicle. Eventually, the U.S. Army sent Jonathan to the Long Beach VA medical facility in California where he remained for nine months for what is termed acute rehabilitation.

During the following year, he lived with family until he realized he simply

could not afford the cost of living. When he learned of a Dr. Goetz, a highly reputable doctor at the Dallas VA who specialized in spinal cord injury, but was also paralyzed, Jonathan moved to Texas.

Well before his accident, Jonathan had become intrigued with the competitive sport of triathlon. The intense endurance race consists of a 2.4-mile swim followed immediately by a 112-mile bike ride and then a 26.2-mile marathon. Interestingly, Jonathan recalled watching the Ironman, the annual race held in Hawaii noted for its particularly grueling hills and pace, where he saw former

  • By Alex Allred

Navy Seal, Carlos Moleda, competing despite his own paralysis.

“That image,” Jonathan said, “stayed with me.” But it was not until 2002,

www.nowmagazines.com

32

MansfieldNOW May 2008

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