Cheerios to feature area veteran


Cheerios to feature area veteran

Liset Marquez, Staff Writer

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if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById(‘articleViewerGroup’).style.width = requestedWidth + “px”; document.getElementById(‘articleViewerGroup’).style.margin = “0px 0px 10px 10px”; } NORCO – For three years, he lay in bed, paralyzed not only by a spinal-cord injury and a neurological disorder but by depression.

Mohan Prasad Vallabhapurapu, 52, was left immobile and paralyzed on the left side of his foot from injuries he sustained while on duty with the Navy in 2001.

The Norco resident said he had to cross many hurdles, mental and physical, to be where he is today.

“I can’t believe it. I’m blessed with a lot of things, my courage, my strength,” he said. “I’ve come a long way.”

Now, Vallabhapurapu, a combat veteran of the Gulf War and a nine-time gold medal winner of National Veterans Wheelchair Games, has been selected by General Mills to be featured on the front of Cheerios boxes. The cereal boxes will only be distributed at Southern California veterans hospitals.

On Friday, Vallabhapurapu will be at Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda signing autographs. He is also helping launch the Veterans Affairs Healthier US Veterans program, which encourages veterans and staff to get healthier through physical activity.

“Mentally, we can accomplish anything in this life. It’s just one day at a time,” he said.

Through his turmoil and hardships, Vallabhapurapu said he wants to serve as a role model and hopes to pass on words of inspiration to other veterans in his position.

“Even these disabilities are not going to stop me. There is much more for me to accomplish,” he

said.

Annie Tuttle, public information officer at the Loma Linda veterans hospital, first met him through the National Wheelchair Games.

“He’s always helping people despite his disabilities,” she said. He does a great job in exciting other veterans. When Cheerios made the decision, we were just thrilled.”

Vallabhapurapu said he wouldn’t have come out of his depression had he not gotten involved in activities such as the National Wheelchair Games in 2004, when he walked away with two gold medals.

But the 19-year Navy veteran said the road to recovery was tough.

Vallabhapurapu was a hospital corpsman carrying heavy equipment at the Navy Regional Contracting Center in Singapore in 2001 when he fell down a flight of stairs.

The fall left him with paralysis of his left foot as well as reflex sympathetic dystrophy, which he said causes severe pain.

“Basically, I’m in constant pain, and there is no cure for it,” he said.

The turning point for him, he said, came in early 2004, when he realized he could either sit in his bed and sulk in his misery or he could take action.

After years of therapy and acupuncture, he has more movement in his arms and the joint of his legs.

Today he is able to get around with the assistance of his electronic chair.

He is in a table tennis league and recently went skiing, on bi-skis, for the first time.

“One day, I’m hoping to be able to overcome these medical disabilities, even though medicine says there’s no cure,” he said.


Autograph session

Meet Mohan Prasad Vallabhapurapu from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday on the second floor outside of the canteen at Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center, 11201 Benton St., Loma Linda.







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