The family and friends of Cpl. Daniel C. W. Riley, USMC, welcome you to join in as we celebrate and support the life of an incredible young man, friend, son, and brother. It is with great love and with many prayers we know that Daniel will move on to great and wonderful things. God has big plans for him! Daniel was born in Victoria, BC, Canada. In 1999 his family (Dad, Mum, brothers Tristan and Aaron, & sister Elizabeth, & cat) moved to Denver, Colorado, where his dad began working for the Episcopal Church in Colorado overseeing work with children, youth, and young adults. Daniel started high school in 1999 at Columbine High School. After three years at CHS he finished his high school at Brentwood College in Canada in 2004. After which he did some college and worked in the US and Canada. Daniel enlisted (still a Canadian citizen) in US Marine Corps in 2008 to serve his new country and to help pay for a future college education. On July 4, 2009 Daniel swore in as a US citizen before the Vice-President in Sadam Hussein's old palace in Bagdad, Iraq. In September 2010 he was sent as a combat replacement for the 2/6 Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan. On December 16, 2010, Daniel was severely wounded by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). He primarily suffered severe wounds to his legs, left arm, and left lung. There were many times he was close to not making it. He has since had both legs amputated above the knee and three fingers amputated on his left hand. His lung and other injuries are healing well. Before this event and for many years to come, we know Daniel to be a loving, caring, intellegent, humourous, giving, adventurous, and deep thinking person. Keep praying! And use this blog to share your thoughts and encouragement.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hand-cycling highlighted in the local news

Daniel was one of the injured Marines featured on a local news channel.  A story was done about a group of the marines who gather every Tuesday to go hand-cycling.  Daniel and a few others are training to cycle the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, in the Fall.

The story can be found at http://www.10news.com/news/28675526/detail.html

*** Video is up. =)

- Dad

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Stroll to Starbucks

Daniel on a quick stroll down to the local Starbucks. Half way there he stops and smiles, "this is the furthest I have been from my wheelchair since I got it."

Time Photos

Since the reference in the 9News interview - http://danielcwriley.blogspot.com/2011/05/9-news.html - many have asked about the pictures that were taken of Daniel on the day he was injured.  After much discussion Daniel has said to "go ahead and post them".  (Note - these are hard to look at.  We offer them only as a way to "make whole" the story and help all to appreciate the fullness of this journey.)

A little backstory.  After a while in the hospital Daniel shared that he recalled that a photographer of some kind was on the helicopter with him as he was being medevac'd after the explosion.  We had tried to find out who the photographer was, or who he was with, from Daniel's unit NCO's, but were unsuccessful.  In February we got a call from a family friend who said that he thinks that Daniel's photo was in Time Magazine.

In December 2009 a woman was visiting a friend and was at a Christmas Eve church service in Vail, Colorado.  Our family was also there and Daniel was in his "dress-blues" uniform.  The woman met Daniel then for the first, and last, time.  Just over a year later this woman is at her home in New York and was reading a Time Magazine.  In it was a photo-article entitled "Wings of Mercy: Medevac in Afghanistan" (January 17, 2011) by the world famous photographer James Nachtwey.  She was interested in reading it because she had heard about Daniel's situation.  She turned to the page and there was a two-page spread photograph of Daniel.  She had only ever seen Daniel once in her life and she recognized him as the young marine she met over a year ago in Colorado.  She told her friend in Vail (and mailed the article). Her friend told our family friend and the information got to us.

Using an iPhone to search the internet we found the photo.  Even on the small screen, we could see that it was Daniel.  It was, however, the most horrific picture I have ever seen in my life.  It was not due to the graphic nature of it - it really isn't that bad.  It was just shocking to my core to see my son laying there only moments after the explosion.  It was the eyes that captured me.  I saw in that picture the eyes of my little boy.  Not hurting. Not struggling. Just eyes that said that he was scared and confused.  It broke my heart. It still does every time I see it - or even think about it.

Later reports filled in that he was still very much struggling for his life.  He "crashed" just before the helicopter arrived and again at the hospital. There are three very real gifts of God when I see the picture. One, that he lived! Two, the miracle that a woman who saw Daniel only once, recognised him in the article and was willing to share that. (We are very thankful to her for that!). Three, that even the though he picture indicates something different, Daniel recalls "calm".  He does not remember panic, pain, or fear ..... just calm.  I cannot explain it other than that the Lord God was with him at the very worst moment in his life.  I trust God will continue to be with him through the rest of the journey.

We share the picture with you today.  We have tried many times and in many ways to contact Time Magazine and the photographer. But, we have been unsuccessful.  We would love to get better quality versions of it and Daniel would love to see other pictures of that day.

The first pictures shows Daniel being carried to the helicopter by members of his unit and the medievac team.  The second shows him moments later being attended to as the flew him to the field hospital.  Both were two-page spreads in the magazine.

From the article:
"Another snapshot from hell, another dusty field. This time it's a Marine being carried on a litter--a young man, both his legs gone, blown off by an IED, the signature weapon of the war. The flight medic works with fierce concentration while the crew chief talks to the Marine, keeping him from passing out so he can help fight for his life as he toughs out the pain."
Caption (photo 2): 
"Life Struggle. The injured Marine is treated by crew members. He survived the IED blast but lost both of his legs."

- Dad

You can find the full article at: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2040942,00.html
also http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2041191,00.html

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Danielathlon (June 4, 2011)

Flashback to the Danielathlon (June 4, 2011)

It is thanks to some very good friends of Daniel that the Danielathlon became an idea, grew to an actual event, and was pulled off so successfully. On a lovely sunny day at a park in south Denver many friends, family, and complete strangers gathered to meet and greet Daniel. It was a celebration of him and all that he has accomplished since December 16th. People came from all over the state to even "just drop by" to say hello and shake the hand of this brave young US Marine.

Daniel's story has touched a great deal of lives. Well-wishers and supporters came to partake, even for a small time, of that story by coming to see Daniel, chat with him, and pass on their prayers and support to him and his family. Many of Daniel's friends came to laugh with him. Friends of the Riley family came to wish Daniel and the family well as they venture forth on a new chapter in their lives. There have also been so many people who have only got to know Daniel through this blog - there were plenty of these.

The hardest part, Daniel shared, was that there was not enough time to spend the time he wanted with all who came. A hand shake or hug, a smile, a picture, and a few words were hardly enough to share his story and share his great appreciation for all the prayers and support. But, he would not have given up even that small amount of time for anything! It was precious to him and also to those who got to connect with Daniel, some for the first time.  There was an estimated 350-400 people who came by to wish him well.

It was a day of fun, food (lots of that, especially cupcakes!), and fellowship. It was a memory that will be cherished.

Heartfelt thanks goes to Caitlin Mock, without whom none of it would been possible. Thank you.

to see pictures go to: http://nmphotography.exposuremanager.com/g/danielathlon and put in password "Smiles"


Graduation ceremony #1 - Aaron (May 28, 2011)

Flashback to 05-28-2011

Daniel was able to enjoy some leave from the hospital and be back in Colorado for his youngest brother's high school graduation. It was part of a busy and fun-filled Memorial Day Weekend. It was interesting and well deserved to have a significant period of time that was not about Daniel and all about Aaron. Granted, Aaron eventually got tired of it. :) It has been hard over the past few months to have people focussed on something or someone other than Daniel, his injuries, and his recovery. It was a pleasant experience for him to be able to sit back and just enjoy being part of the family, seeing friends, and just relaxing. This all helps to establish the new normal.