News: Wounded Marines receives Pat Tillman Award
LOS ANGELES - A former Marine and double amputee was awarded the Pat Tillman Award for Service at the Excellence in Sports Performance award ceremony in Los Angeles July 16, 2014.
Retired Sgt. Josh Sweeney, a forward on the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey team, received the award in recognition of his athleticism and service for others.
The Pat Tillman Award honors the former NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger Cpl. Patrick Daniel “Pat” Tillman, who was killed in action while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in eastern Afghanistan 2004. It is awarded each year to an individual who captures Tillman’s dedication to sports and service to others.
Sweeney enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2005 and was medically retired for injuries he sustained from an IED explosion in 2009 in Nowzad, Afghanistan. Although he lost both of his legs, Sweeney didn’t let the trauma overcome his heart with darkness or defeat.
“After being injured you think, 'What can I do now?' or 'What are my limitations?'” Sweeney said. “Being out there on the ice and seeing what I could do helped make me feel better about myself. The fact that it was so hard to get to where I am today — the training was just endless and some days it felt like I got on the ice for no reason at all and I wasn't getting any better — it really helped me emotionally to push through and look at the right things I was doing, the positive things.”
Sweeney’s hard work and dedication paid off when he scored the winning goal against Russia during the gold medal game of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Like Tillman, Sweeney demonstrates excellence in his sport and credits his motivation, positive mindset and health to the team. He believes that if he wasn’t a part of it, he would not be where he is today.
“I can honestly say if I wasn’t on this team I think things would have been a lot different for me, and it really helps keep me motivated, in good shape and just with a positive mindset,” Sweeney said.