VALPARAISO | Josh Bleill told his audience at Strongbow Inn that his faith was tested multiple times after he lost both legs to a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq on October 15, 2006.
Still, he remained strong.
Bleill was the keynote speaker for Thursday morning’s 9th Annual Valparaiso Area National Day of Prayer Community Breakfast and spokesperson for the Indianapolis Colts
“The first thing I did when I got new prosthetic legs with knees was to get down on them and pray and thank God for the life he spared,” Bliell told the crowd of business people, community leaders, political leaders, and administrators from the Boy Scouts of America LaSalle Council.
He said there were many dark times over the years, especially after losing two of his fellow Marines in that attack and a major medical recovery setback that required a second amputation surgery that forced his therapy to start from the beginning.
“My faith was tested," he said. "My life was changed forever. But after 22 months in the hospital, healing mentally, physically, and spiritually, I was able to walk off of that plane.”
The key to recovery for Bliell, a Greenfield, Ind., native, was faith in God, and for those in the audience who heard Bliell’s message, that belief spoke loud and clear.
“He’s such an inspiration,” said Erika Dutcher, district executive for the Boy Scouts of America LaSalle Council who organized the event.
“His story is one of survival. We hope everyone walks away with hope,” she said.
Sheriff David Lain opened the event by singing “God Bless America” and he said that the National Day of Prayer serves the function of binding the community.
“It is meant to congeal all of us with the notion that we are one nation under God. Bringing us all together is what it’s all about,” Lain said.
As photographs from Boy Scouts summer camps played on a screen, and Eagle Scout Zach Froelich played piano before the event, emcee Lonnie Steele told the crowd that the 12th point of the Scout’s Law is that a “scout is reverent,” a theme that was echoed in Bliell’s speech.
“Bad things happen. October 15, 2006 was the worst day of my life. My world went black. We all have bombs going off in our lives—things we don’t see coming that change your life forever. Some say that God only gives you what you can handle but that’s not true—he gives you more, to push you to the point where you have to come to him,” Bliell said.