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Wounded Warrior runs with one-of-a kind prosthetic leg

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

It is a truth as old as human conflict: war leaves a mark.

In this century, in these wars, limbs once claimed by blades or bullets are far more often torn from warrior bodies by high explosive blasts.

At the Center for the Intrepid, among those who made it back, the mark of war often finds expression in what's missing.

In Afghanistan, combat engineer Ed Lychik cleared roadside bombs.

"We got hit with a recoilless rifle.  It's just a big rocket. It hit the middle of our vehicle while I was in the gunners hatch and took out most of my leg, my left leg," explained Lychik.

To save his life, military surgeons took off what was left at the hip.

With pain and work and luck Ed Lychik might walk again, but his chances of reengaging with a love of running were labeled as less than zero.  It was a slam dunk prognosis the kid from Tacoma simply refused to accept.

"I am going to run one day. I will do it. No one has done it before. I will do it. I will get it done," said Lychik.

To get where he needed to go Ed needed a highly specialized ally willing to take a leap.

"He just didn't seem to to take no for an answer," said Bob Kuenzi, a prosthetist at Brooke Army Medical Center's Center for the Intrepid.

Kuenzi builds replacement limbs and Ed Lychick says, few if any are better.

"He made time, he made overtime," said Lychik.

Together, through trial and lot of error, the pair attacked a challenge previously thought impossible.

"We're just here building this leg, just creating it because we can't go by the book," explained Lychik.

With limited load bearing capacity on Ed's pelvis, artificial hip and knee joints for running were out of the question.

A brick wall that led Kuenzi, a trained engineer turned prosthetist to a Eureka moment.

"Some people would call it a peg leg. It's a pretty high end peg leg," said Kuenzi with a smile.

And just like that, the impossible wasn't.

Within days of his first fitting, Army Specialist Lychik was scampering around the track with Intrepid comrades building extra endurance by wearing a gas mask.

With the help of his one of a kind prostethetic, Ed quickly logged an astonishing 8-minute mile.

It would prove a mere prelude to a more daunting goal, the 12-mile, 28-obstacle Austin Tough Mudder.

"I was fully expecting that they would have to haul him away in one of the first aid carts," said Kuenzi.

It was truly "tough", but Ed Lychik finished strongly with his Wounded Warrior team.

"Everybody wanted to take their picture with him. It was pretty cool," said Kuenzi.

What is also pretty cool is the bond these two have built. From the beginning Lychik fully embraced the ability of this cutting edge prosthetist to walk in his shoes.

"He's an amputee.  He loves doing this stuff. It's more than just a job for him.  This is more.  It's passion," said Lychik.

For the young soldier from Washington state who left a piece of himself in an unfriendly land this realized dream that pushed him through pain now offers a fresh path for others who struggle still.

"If I can do it, everyone else, anyone can do it. People just have to believe in themselves and they can accomplish anything," said Lychik.

It's like they say: war leaves a mark.

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