From surgery to American Ninja Warrior, Windsor veteran hopes to encourage others who were wounded
July 25, 2017
Robbie Doman's legs were crushed under a Humvee in 2008, but last week he watched with friends and family as he appeared on American Ninja Warrior.
The 34-year-old hopes his determination after 14 surgeries on his leg, back and ankles to push through the pain and compete will encourage other wounded veterans to believe in themselves.
While in the U.S. Army serving in Iraq, Doman said he was riding on the top of a Humvee when an improvised explosive device caused the vehicle to roll over top of him. His spine was fused, and he required multiple surgeries to fix his ankle and knee.
The road to recovery was full of obstacles for Doman, as he went from using a wheel chair to crutches, then a cane, and then back to crutches after more surgeries were required.
"It kept going forward, backwards, forward, backwards," he said.
But Doman refused to give up, and even though he still experiences pain on a regular basis, he continued training to make it onto the show.
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Doman hopes that determination will help veterans push past the thought Doman said many who are wounded may think: "I can't do that, I'm injured."
"They'll get pretty excited about stepping up a little bit, get out and do things they never thought they could do again," he said.
Doman is the commander for American Legion Post 109 in Windsor, and last week his fellow veterans celebrated his appearance on American Ninja Warrior with a viewing party at the Legion Post.
While Doman did not proceed to the finals, everyone at the legion was proud to call him one of their own, said Nacho Alvarado, vice commander of the post.
"It was pretty exciting just to watch him and feel his excitement when he got up there on the platform," Alvarado said.
Doman saluted before beginning the course, and in that moment Alvarado said he was especially filled with pride.
Everyone at the viewing party was asking him so many questions Doman said he had to watch the episode again later, but he was happy to have so many people there to cheer his past self on.
Doman was also surprised to be the focus of commercials during the week leading up to the show. That made him even more nervous, he said, because he has seen so many people who were in previews fall on the first obstacle.
"It kept going through my mind I didn't want to fall on the first one," he said.
And he didn't — Doman made it to the fourth obstacle. Although a ninja course was not available to him for training, Doman said he focused on his upper body strength, in the hopes that it would be a balance for his injured legs.
While his lower body and balance were the cause of his fall, Doman said, he plans to apply to be on the show again next year.
Doman said he was proud to represent Windsor.
"I think it's pretty cool, I've watched it a long time and you don't see people from smaller towns yet," he said.