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A Life of Service Finds a Path Through Carry Forward 5K

Miki Padgett always wanted to lead a life in service to others. He grew up in Costa Rica, where his parents served as missionaries and he learned to speak fluent Spanish. He tried college, but chose to give up a scholarship to enlist in the U.S. Marines. He served eight years of active duty in the Marines, and he enlisted for two years in the Army to become an infantry officer.

“I was about to get a commission with the Marines and turned it down to lead an Army infantry platoon in Iraq,” Miki said.

His Army scouts’ job was finding roadside bombs ahead of patrols. Miki was injured in 2007 after multiple incidents with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) detonating near his Humvee. He received a Purple Heart and continued serving, eventually connecting with Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) after a humanitarian mission to Haiti in 2010. 

After attending Western Kentucky University after his Army service, he settled in the greater Nashville area, where he has family, a church, and a community he feels a part of.

His brother Joel, a retired Army captain, invited him to participate in the WWP Carry Forward® 5K, delivered by CSX® in Nashville in 2019.

“It was a fun time and a great opportunity to be among like-minded people with a great mission,” Miki said. “People were all smiles. You realize you don’t have to walk alone — we’re here to bear each other’s burdens and carry one another in the thick of it.”

Miki and Joel’s Team Padgett was the top fundraiser in Nashville, raising $9,000 in 2019. This year’s team is going for a virtual event alongside another team, each with $5,000 goals. Miki’s team is more than halfway there three weeks before the event.

These two brothers are steadfast in their mission to inspire others to give back to veterans through fundraising and supporting organizations like WWP.

“In 2010, Wounded Warrior Project reached out to me,” Miki recalled. “I was coming back from Haiti after the earthquake. It was a time when all my issues from past service were coming to the forefront. It was good to talk to other guys and realize I wasn’t the only one.”

“A lot of guys have invisible wounds, and those wounds are just as relevant and important to address as the physical injuries,” Miki said.

Miki brings a Costa Rican “Pura Vida” flavor to every interaction, appreciating what each day brings with a positive attitude. He is not afraid to tell you he has found a purpose and believes he survived for a reason.

He credits his faith, wife, and family for support during his transition to civilian life. He sees divine providence in his path, and this fuels his desire to serve.

“It’s good to see how God uses you to help others.”

This year, Team Padgett and a neighboring team will reconvene safely for a virtual 5K with a smaller group of veterans at a local gym operated by a former Marine. To join Team Padgett, visit the team’s Carry Forward page. Learn more about how you can take action for wounded veterans and host your own virtual Carry Forward 5K here.

About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.




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