Injured vet to throw out first pitch at Rays-Yankees - FOX 13 News

Injured vet to throw out first pitch at Rays-Yankees

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

He's a veteran missing both legs and his left arm, a triple-amputee after a blast in Afghanistan. But that's not stopping this American hero from throwing out the first pitch at Monday night's Rays-Yankees game.

He said his heart goes out to the bomb blast victims in Boston, because he knows what it's like to be attacked and to lose limbs.

But as he wheeled his chair out onto the field, he said, you can see just by his actions that anything is possible, even after the worst has happened.

Mike Nicholson was just getting warmed-up, throwing pitches back and forth in his parent's front yard.

"A little nervous," said Nicholson. "But more excited than nervous. I put this liner on, it's got this pin here, stick it in, it locks into place and then this is actually a rock climbing right here, but I use it to push around the wheelchair."

The 23-year-old triple-amputee, who lost his left arm and both legs, wanted his opening pitch for the Rays-Yankees game to be spot on.

"I plan on throwing it to the catcher," he laughed. "That's my goal right there, gettin' it to the catcher and making it look good!"

"You can see he was an athlete, that's for sure," said George Sillers, who's been acting as Nicholson's pitching coach. Siller is with Tunnel To Towers Foundation.

"If you can walk into a battle, I think you can throw a pitch," said Sillers.

His foundation is named after his brother Stephen, a NY firefighter who walked nearly three miles in 65 pounds worth of gear, through the Brooklyn Battery tunnel, to help first responders on September 11th, 2001. He died trying to save others.

"Stephen would have wanted to help them and we definitely feel honored to help anybody that served our country in such a heroic way," Sillers said.

Tunnel To Towers, the Rays, actor Gary Sinise and many other locals are helping pay for and build a smart home for Nicholson.

"After a long day at work, you can just go there and everything there is made for you, and it's a good feeling, a real good feeling," Nicholson said.

He's been glued to the tragedy in Boston, because more than anyone, he knows what it's like to be attacked with a bomb.

"Absolute shock," he said. "I mean, I saw the videos and it was just like Afghanistan, the explosions looked just like the ones in Afghanistan pretty much, so it's like, wow."

For those victims who survived the Boston blast, he said life will go on.

"It's gonna be tough at first," said Nicholson. "But when you get down to it, the good days definitely outnumber the bad."

Gary Sinise's Lt. Dan Band will be performing in-concert May 10th at Curtis Hixon Park. Proceeds will help pay for Nicholson's Smart Home. There are plenty of great tickets still available.

You can learn more about the concert and about Sgt. Nicholson at these sites:

 

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