Injured Brentwood Marine Completes New Mission - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Injured Brentwood Marine Completes New Mission

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By Chris Conte

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. - As a Lance Corporal in the Marines, Ben Maenza will tell you he never intended to come home with a Purple Heart. 

"No one really wants the Purple Heart, but I'll take it," the 24-year-old explained while sitting on his back porch in Brentwood Sunday afternoon.

"I got injured on October 21st, 2010," he added.

It's a story repeated too many times, Ben was on patrol in Afghanistan that day in October.

He put one foot forward, when an IED erupted beneath his feet. When he woke up in the hospital, both of his legs were gone. 

"I don't think they (Afghan rebels) are trying to kill us, just trying to maim us, demoralize us," he says about the war. 

But Ben decided he wasn't about to let that moment define his life. 

"It's just about accepting the fact that this is who I'm gonna be," he says about his life now. "The more I train them, the better I do," he says.

 Recently, the 24-year-old decided to pedal his way across the country on a specialized road bike, using nothing more than his hands and determination.

"I had to stretch my fingers, my hands, my arms," he adds.

It took Ben and his biking buddy 60 days. They started in Florida, spun their way across the south and 2,500 later, they found their way to the Pacific.

"It was amazing, just seeing all the vegetation, all of the wildlife... there's so much out there," he said about the trip. 

Ben didn't just do it for himself, he did it for the Semper Fi Fund, an organization that helps out other wounded Marines. 

"So far we've raised over $90,000," Ben noted.

More than anything, Ben hopes his ride will inspire others.

"I'm gonna continue to live my life and continue to do whatever it is I wanna do."

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