GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A soldier who survived an explosive attack to eventually compete on “Dancing with the Stars” will speak to Grand Rapids students Friday.
Sgt. Noah Galloway will give the keynote address during the West Michigan Armed Forces Thanksgiving Luncheon at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.
Galloway joined the military in 2001 after the September 11th attacks. He was three months into his second tour of duty as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom when he was gravely injured in the December 2005 attack.
In his book “Living with No Excuses,” Galloway says he lost more than his left arm and leg. But his three children gave him the motivation to persevere, he told 24 Hour News 8 Friday morning.
“I went through a long extent of depression and struggles and mistakes that I made. And it was knowing that I needed to be a father for them that got me up and going and getting back into life and trying to make sure I was doing the best I could do,” said Galloway.
Galloway visited Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in November 2015 to encourage patients going through physical therapy, including some amputees like himself.
Galloway said his lesson for students Friday is to work on bridging the gap between themselves and veterans.
“It’s really important to show our veterans that we care about them, that the community cares about them,” Galloway said.
“There’s a lot of respect, but I think that there needs to be more communication. And I feel like doing that with the students, that’s perfect,” he added.
This is the second year for the West Michigan Armed Forces Thanksgiving Appreciation Luncheon. Last year’s event raised $30,000 for the West Michigan Veterans Coalition.
Armed Forces Thanksgiving 2017
Armed Forces Thanksgiving 2017 x
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“I love the whole concept of what this is,” said Galloway. And this being the second annual and hearing that it’s even bigger than last year, and hopefully next year’s even bigger than this year.”
Before the event, students will hold a rally at Ah-Nab-Awen Park and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum. Veterans and military members will also be on hand, along with military vehicles and combat gear.
After the event, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum will offer free admission from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.
***CORRECTION: An earlier version listed Galloway joining the military in 2011, not 2001. We regret this error, which has since been corrected.***