SGT Mario Lopez
New Braunfels, TX
Mario Lopez was in high school when he watched the twin towers fall during the September 11th terrorist attacks. Angered by the horrific events, Mario felt compelled to serve, thinking: “If I don’t do it, who will?”
Mario enlisted shortly after graduating in 2003, joining the 68th Engineer Company as a truck driver. He first deployed to Iraq in 2005 and again to Afghanistan in 2008. On Aug. 13, four months into his second tour, Sergeant Lopez was on a mission when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device (IED). SGT Lopez’s battle buddies acted quickly, and immediately came to his aid and pulled him from the burning vehicle. He sustained burns to over 50 percent of his body; the loss of his right arm and four fingers on his left hand; severe damage to his feet; and the loss of his sight in his right eye.
Once back in the United States, Mario spent two months in a medical coma. When he awoke, he had to relearn how to walk. He underwent multiple skin grafts and surgeries to reconstruct his face, left hand, and right foot.
Now medically retired, Mario manages his pain and discomforts while focusing on adapting his life as best he can. He has turned his experiences of injury and recovery into art. After losing his dominant arm, Mario thought he would never paint again. In July 2011, he picked-up a paint brush with his left hand, started making strokes across the canvas, and has not stopped since. Mario has had his artwork displayed at different art events and shows across the country. He is currently working on putting together a Veteran art show to exhibit across the country. He is also a published author – he and his wife, Danielle, wrote a book together called How I know: A Story to Strengthen Your Faith. Mario plans to expand his creative outlets even further – he is currently studying digital photography with hopes to open his own photo business.
Though Mario has established himself as an artist, constantly dealing with the frustrations of a non-adapted home makes him feel limited in his family life. It is discouraging for Mario to be unable to enjoy the outdoors with his four children because the rocky terrain around his yard makes it difficult for him to maintain his balance. Receiving a specially adapted custom Homes For Our Troops home will provide an ideal environment for Mario to focus on his family, art, and the future.
A native Texan, Mario is choosing to remain in the Lone Star State to be close to family and medical care.
Mario says he feels blessed and honored to live in a time where people give so generously to Veterans like himself. “Any donation, no matter how big or small, means the world to me as it would help provide a more independent living and financially secure future for me and my family.”