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Sarasota veteran, Ran Papica, walks ‘Final Mile’ over Ringling Bridge

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) – Former triathlete and kite-surfing enthusiast, Ran Papica of the U.S. Army Special Forces, completed his mile-long project Friday morning as part of a national recognition for wounded war veterans.

Papica had his left leg amputated and suffered severe internal injuries in combat. At one point in his career, Papica was declared dead from heart damage and organ hemorrhage before being revived.

However, he never let his disability get the better of him.

Inspired by the Patriot Walks across the nation, Papica took on the “Final Mile” project after becoming friends with Larry Hinkle who is performing a cross county walk of 2640 miles from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to Camp Pendleton , California.

The friendship became an inspiration for many, including Papica who decided to launch his own walk.

Backed by members of handicap support, wounded warriors and veterans from around the nation, Papica took on the “Final Mile” project and challenged himself to walk a mile.

According to a recent Facebook post, Larry commented once that his own trek of a thousand miles is equally as challenging as Papica’s effort to walk a mile with a titanium leg.

The “Final Mile” was originally supposed to take place in San Diego, California with Hinkle. However, due to a recent eye hemorrhage and cardiac arrest incident, Papica could not fly.

Never giving up, Papica decided to continue his mission here on the Suncoast by walking the mile over the Historic Ringling Bridge in Sarasota.

“The Final Mile” is also the title of a book written by Papica about his passage from clinical flatline to a survivor with a positive goal of initiating awareness on the Fight against Disability.