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Area handcyclist celebrating Boston Marathon win

Army veteran loves sharing his encouraging story

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 6:58 am

Tom Davis is proving God creates miracles.

The United States Army staff sergeant was serving in Iraq on June 3, 2006 when the truck he was riding in triggered a roadside bomb. Riding shotgun, Davis lost his left leg above the knee, broke both forearms, fractured his right knee and vertebra in his back, and cracked some bones in his head. He was also diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He recovered in the hospital for six or seven weeks and then spent 15 months rehabilitating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Now age 35, he lives in Fremont with his wife, Jamie, and their children, ages 11, 7, 5 and 3.

Last Friday, Davis told a crowd of kids at Turnstone how they can overcome what everyone else may see as debilitating injuries, diseases and birth problems and still become anything they want. Monday morning he proved it by winning the Boston Marathon in the handcycling division.

``What I love most about it is being able to go to elementary schools, middle schools and youth groups and talk to them about it,'' Davis said.

Now, he's really got something to talk to them about.

In his first trip to Boston and taking off about 40 minutes before the runners' race, Davis passed the man who finished second about mile after the start and cruised to the finish line five minutes ahead in 1 hour, 17 minutes and 59 seconds.

After a small celebration, Davis was in his hotel room taking a nap when the explosions took place Monday.

An avid runner when he was growing up in Reading, Mich., Davis said he tried using a handcycle as part of his therapy at Walter Reed. He didn't get his first one until 2008, which he rode while he was serving as an instructor at Fort Benning, Ga. The bike sat in his shed for quite a while because Davis got into weight lifting instead.

``Then I felt like God was calling me to start handcycling,'' Davis said.

He started with a couple of races in 2011, and 2012 was his first full year in competition. His cardio work from running and his power from weight lifting meant handcycling was the perfect format for him.

``I've always been a runner, and once I got hurt, I couldn't run anymore so being able to get into a sport where I can go fast ... the speed and the competition is what I love,'' he said.

After trying two races in 2011, Davis put together an 18-race schedule last year and lost only twice. His focus was on the Paralympic games, but he finished second in his division at the United States trials and did not qualify for London. Then he started focusing on the Boston Marathon.

As a runner, Davis knows all about Boston's history, and the significance of what he was doing hit him a little over the last 200 to 300 meters, but it hasn't really staggered him yet. It won't until he has some downtime. Last week, Davis came home Tuesday from a race in Bogota, Colombia, spoke at Turnstone on Friday night and left for Boston on Saturday. He came home Monday night and leaves Thursday for a race in Greenville, S.C.

You know what he's really looking forward to? A former high school classmate has invited him to speak at her school next month for an assembly.

``Last year, I was all about racing and the whole Paralympic thing,'' he said. ``This year, it's like God is asking, `What are you going to do with it besides just winning races?' I'm going to find out.''