NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Matthew Bradford was a freshman at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester on September 11, 2001.
It was in the aftermath of 9/11 that he decided he would serve in the military, he said. In 2005. he enlisted in the Marines and in 2006 he was deployed to Iraq.
Then, in January 2007, Bradford said he was checking to make sure the path for his fellow Marines was clear when he was severely injured.
"...in a matter of seconds it exploded underneath me sending shrapnel into my eyes, removing my left let and my right leg was severely damaged," said Bradford.
When Bradford arrived back in the United States, he felt defeated.
"There was only two ways I wanted to come home from Iraq, was to either come home with my brothers or come home in a casket," he said.
But the people around him refused to let him give up.
"They helped me realize that I was still a Marine," he said. "They kept pushing me and they didn't let me give up... and then just one day the light flipped on and I realized, I'm only 20 years old. I got a long life ahead of me and I started creating these goals in my head."
Today, he has reached many of those goals. He has participated in several marathons, helped veterans across the country and this summer he completed a bike ride across the Commonwealth in just five days.
He said he owes much of his success to his family, but he continues to push to reach the next goal.
"Each year I try to find something new and more challenging to go out and pursue and each year I've kind of conquered it," Bradford said.
Bradford is also a motivational speaker and he tells his story to inspire others to keep going.
"If you lead and do things the right way, then people will observe and follow," said Bradford.