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Idaho snowmobilers help disabled veterans

They came to ride and reconnect, and easily mixed with the dozens of volunteers who helped coordinate the inaugural Disabled Veterans Snowmobile Ride.

Many of the 13 wounded veterans who participated had never ridden a snowmobile, including Chris Tschida of Meridian, who lost a hand and sustained other injuries when an insurgent tossed two grenades into his tank in Iraq. Tschida wears a prosthetic hook on his left arm, but it didn’t stop him from joining his fellow veterans and trying out snowmobiling.

"I’m trying to see how far I can go," he said.

Tschida and his fellow veterans are all at least 50 percent disabled from combat wounds or other service-related injuries.

The Disabled Veterans Snowmobile Ride was the brainchild of Josh Callihan of Boise and done in cooperation with a small army of volunteers from the Idaho State Snowmobile Association and several Treasure Valley businesses.

Callihan was a Marine in the Iraq War. In 2001, he took four bullets, including one that hit his lower spine.

After his initial surgery, he remembers a doctor telling him he probably wouldn’t live, and if he did, he’d be paralyzed from the waist down.

Callihan spent six months in hospitals recuperating, and eventually regained feeling in his legs and relearned to walk, but he still doesn’t have full use of his right leg.

He loved snowboarding while growing up in Coeur d’Alene, but could no longer do it, so he turned to snowmobiling.

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