ZAHAL DISABLED VETERANS
During Operation Protective Edge he lost his leg, but Ron Halevi (21 yrs.) from Kibbutz Gesher in the north doesn’t give up* After a long and difficult rehabilitation process he went back to Kayaking and will soon be taking part in the World Championship for Disabled in Italy* “I live a normal life and don’t think about my injury”
Posted In: 08/08/15 Rotem Elizera (Yedioth Aharonoth, June 30, 2015)
There are healthy and whole people who will always complain about how difficult things are, they’ll go on about their pains and weaknesses. And there are those who were born fighters and will remain as such their entire lives – no matter what happens to them. One of these is Ron Halevi (21 yrs.) from Kibbutz Gesher in the north.
Already when he as 13 yrs. old, Ron began to train on a kayak in the Sea of Galilee, near his Kibbutz. He spent 2 hours a day rowing, investing a lot of energy – although he never really thought of turning it into an athletic career. It was mostly a hobby and a means to stay in shape. “I won a few medals, but it was never something serious”, he tells. Like many other young men, when he was drafted into the IDF he left behind his athletic pursuits for the benefit of a combat service. He served in the Tank Corp, completed commanders course, and as a sergeant, during Operation Protectice Edge, served as a commander in a support company.
During Operation Protective Edge he took part in the fighting in the Gaza Strip and was severely wounded from a mortar. “We had finished fighting in Kahn Ynis, we had crossed the border and were already inside Israel territory. Armored Personnel Carriers came to pick us up and that’s when the mortars were shot at us. One of them hit an APC and all the shrapnel flew on our force”. Five of his comrades were killed at this incident: Omri Tal, Shai Kushnir, Noam Rosenthal, Daniel Marsh and Liran Edry. Ron and nine other soldiers were wounded. He suffered from shrapnel wounds to his leg and was evacuated by a helicopter to the Tel Hashomer Medical Center. It was there that he learned the very difficult news: “The doctors explained to me that my leg could not be saved and it was amputated under the knee”, Ron recounts.
Despite the loss of his leg, he didn’t break, underwent rehab and got a prosthetic leg. “Two months after the injury, I already started walking”. He said he was encouraged by other amputees who came to visit him: “They showed me that even if you’re left with only one leg, it’s certainly not the end of the world. I understood very quickly that life goes on”. Part of his rehabilitation took place at Haifa’s Beit Halochem.
Indeed, a mere six months after he was injured and after having been fitted with a new leg which can be used in water, Ron decided to return to Kayaking. Since then, he has been spending two hours a day rowing. Unlike during his youth, this time, he is motivated to compete for medals. This coming August he will take part in the world championship for disabled kayaking, rowing the 200 meters category. The competition will take place in Milano, and Ron believes he will get to one of the middle level places. “On a day to day basis, I don’t deal with my injury at all. I live a regular, normal life. I do almost everything”, he tells. Sometimes he’s invited to come and tell his story to students at schools.
“They understand that even when you’re disabled, you can move on with your life and even be successful”.
Haim Bar, Chairman of the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization: “Ron is a great example of an inspiring rehabilitation story. We are proud to be able to offer him all the tools to succeed, just as we do to all the other Zahal Disabled Veterans who reach incredible achievements the likes of which they never dreamed of”.
By: Rotem Elizera (Yedioth Aharonoth, June 30, 2015)