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Amputee overcomes disability to finish race (w/video)

By BY JORDAN RUBIO - SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE
April 12, 2014 at 10:03 p.m.
Updated April 12, 2014 at 11:13 p.m.

Children younger than 10 stand at the start line for the kids' fun run at the fourth annual Chick-fil-A Young Life 5K and 10K. The approximately 200-yard race occurred Saturday after the 5K and 10K were finished.

It was Doug Link's first 5K of any kind. But more importantly, it was the first race he had run since his accident.

The 35-year-old Lake Jackson man, a triple amputee, was the first disabled athlete to participate in the fourth annual Chick-fil-A Young Life 5K-10K race Saturday morning, located in front of the Chick-fil-A on Navarro Street.

Link was involved in a head-on car crash more than eight years ago that took both his arms and his left leg.

"I had a 12.5 percent chance to live, and I made it," he said.

Despite this being the first time he had ever participated in a 5K, Link said he didn't feel nervous.

"I got my team with me," he said. "I'm feeling good."

In fact, it was his team that got him to participate in the race in the first place.

One of Link's friends, Travis Yarbrough, who helped put on the race, convinced him he should run. The two were friends growing up and graduated from school together.

So Link trained, losing between 15 to 20 pounds to participate. And before the race began, he said he had one goal in mind: to finish the race without his wheelchair.

"I want to cross that finish line standing up," he said.

He did just that, surrounded by members of the Yarbrough family helping him along the way as people watching cheered him on.

Even though it was the first 5K he had run, Link said "it wasn't bad."

"I was kind of surprised (it wasn't so tough); I thought it would be worse," he said.

The event, put on by Young Life Victoria and Chick-fil-A, had about 450 people register for it, including the close to 50 children running in the kids' fun run, Young Life committee member Jennifer Yarbrough said.

Young Life is an international Christian outreach ministry that pairs up volunteers with high school students as mentors, according to the organization's website. It has a local chapter in Victoria.

All proceeds from the event will go to the local Young Life chapter, according to the event's website.

The group wanted to raise more than the $30,000 from last year's event, said Jared Lindsey, Young Life Victoria area director. The money will go to pay general expenses like staff salaries, office functions and putting on outreach events.

Yet for all the pomp and festivity, with music blaring and police closing parts of Navarro Street, Salem Road, Loop 463 and John Stockbauer Drive for the event, all eyes were trained on Link as he stood up out of his wheelchair and walked toward the finish line.

And when he crossed the finish line with tears in his eyes, Link said he had one thought.

"It felt dang good."

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