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Woman won't let plight get her down page 3
King George woman who lost her leg and her vision after service in Bosnia has shared her story across the nation.

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Date published: 11/12/2012

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"She was in a brown dress, walking around with a big smile on her face like she's always got," he said.

He didn't know she was an amputee. Lots of veterans thought she was a social worker, and they didn't want a candy bar, magazine or whatever else she was offering. And they certainly didn't feel like talking.

Then Smith rolled up her pant leg, showed her prosthetic and said she was a soldier, too.

Just like that, the bond began.

"They weren't going to let the female amputee outdo them," Smith said. "When the newly injured came in and saw others doing things, it gave them inspiration and the knowledge they'll be OK."

'LIKE MISS AMERICA'

Smith started doing sports events she'd never done before, like marathons, and with her background in public relations, she was well-suited to handle the publicity that came with the events.

She started becoming a spokeswoman for wounded warriors, especially with groups like Achilles International and American Veterans Disabled for Life.

Bowser, a soldier who lost his leg in 2004 when a rocket exploded on his camp in Iraq, remembers completing the New York City Marathon with Smith.

Both were on three-wheeled bikes and used their hands to crank the wheels. Like most racers, Bowser crossed the finish line as quickly as he could.

Then, he looked back to find Smith. He saw her among the throngs of spectators, smiling, talking and asking everyone how they were doing.

"I look up and there she is, on the sidewalk, waving like Miss America," he said. "I told her, 'You realize the object of this thing is to shorten the time, not lengthen it.' It just really cracked me up, she was hilarious."

Smith did a 60-mile bike ride through Washington and a hunting trip in Colorado. She was gearing up to try paraplegic volleyball before her vision loss.

Her living room is filled with photos of her with dignitaries, including the younger President Bush and President Obama, as well as Gary Sinise, the actor who has been an advocate for veterans since he played Lt. Dan in "Forrest Gump."

Smith and Sinise have worked together for five years to create a memorial in Washington for disabled veterans.

'A LASTING IMPRESSION'


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