Inaugural ‘Become-That-Someone’ Speaker Motivates Students

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Former Army Sgt. Rick Yarosh spoke to Saint Francis University (SFU) student-athletes and other attendees on March 14 at the JFK Auditorium, sharing a compelling story of his experience overcoming serious injuries and creating an organization called H.O.P.E., which stands for “Hold On, Possibilities Exist.”

He is the first-ever speaker in the SFU Athletic Department’s “Become-That-Someone” Speaker Series. The “Become-That-Someone” theme is inspired by the story of SFU legend Maurice Stokes and his friend and teammate, Jack Twyman.

Yarosh joined the Army in 2004 after he heard that his neighbor had been killed in Iraq.

He entered basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, learning how to drive a Bradley—a fighting vehicle with armor protection designed to transport troops.

“I joined the military because I was lost,” said Yarosh.

Before his deployment, Yarosh’s sergeant at the time told his group that not all of them were coming home.

“That was hard for me to hear,” Yarosh said.

On Sept. 1, 2006, nine months into his deployment, Yarosh and his platoon went on a typical patrol. Yarosh’s vehicle was in the back of a convoy, serving the role of “security” vehicle.

That’s when Yarosh’s Bradley was instructed to switch places with another. During the switch, his vehicle hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Yarosh suffered second and third degree burns over 60 percent of his body, causing scarring and loss of certain functions. He lost his right leg below the knee and spent six months at a hospital in San Antonio.

Following his discharge from the hospital, Yarosh founded H.O.P.E. He has lived by this motto, which has helped get him through difficult times.

The Purple Heart recipient now tours the country, speaking publicly about his experiences in an effort to motivate others.

He was invited to speak at a Houston church and has continued speaking publicly about his experiences ever since.

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