Skip to main content

A wounded veteran 
gets a helping hand
in his quest for fitness

02/06/2014 05:16PM, Published by ACL, Categories: In Print, Business


Crossfit gym owner John Wallen (left) adapted weight-lifting equipment so that wounded veteran Larry Perry could work out with his injured left arm.



By John Chambless
Staff Writer


Each time Larry Perry lifts weights at the Crossfit gym in Toughkenamon, he takes another step toward optimum fitness, and another step away from the day when he almost died.
On Oct. 25, 2006, Perry was on his second tour of duty, riding with two other soldiers in a truck in Haditha, Iraq, when they were hit with an explosive device. The other two men were killed, and Perry, a 24-year-old Navy corpsman, sustained massive injuries, including a shattered elbow, a broken back, broken ribs, a fractured left kneecap and severe burns and cuts. Thirty surgeries have put him back on track, but he still battles the damage to his knees and his arm.
Perry, a Cecil County native, has lived in Oxford since 2012 with his wife and two children, ages 5 and 1. Since his return to civilian life, he has worked to stay fit, and he particularly enjoys the supportive atmosphere offered at Crossfit locations. He found the Toughkenamon branch of the gym last April and quickly became part of the family, according to gym owner John Wallen.
“Our classes are a hybrid of group classes and personal training,” Wallen said. “We cap our classes at no more than 10 people per class. It’s an intense mix of constantly varied exercise. The big thing about Crossfit is the community.”
Wallen saw that Perry had trouble with stability when lifting weights. Perry’s elbow joint was removed as a result of recurring infections, and while there is still muscle tone, he cannot keep the barbell steady.
“We do a lot of overhead movements,” Wallen said, “and I was a little worried that he might get a little imbalanced. We talked about it, and the muscles are still there, it was just the problem with the instability. Now, I’m no engineer, I’m a lawyer. What I came up with is the crudest thing, but it works.”
His adaptation is two wooden boards that are attached to the weight rack, extending upward so that the weights do not wobble to the front or back when Perry is lifting them. The device doesn’t prevent others from using the equipment and guarantees that Perry can’t drop the weights.
Perry said he hasn’t had therapy for his arm in the past couple of years, but he knows he has to keep working out to keep the limb strong. “I wanted to show my kids a healthy lifestyle by keeping in shape,” he said. “I started with golf in 2008. In 2010, I started doing triathlons. In 2012, I did an Iron Man triathlon. Then I came to Crossfit in April 2013.”

“The Crossfit community sticks together,” Wallen said. “We have military, we have mushroom farmers, we have bankers, teachers, lawyers -- everybody from all walks of life. They come here with the common goal of getting in the best shape of their lives, and we all become friends. We leave our egos at the door.”
Perry said he’s at the gym almost every day. His wife often joins him, bringing their youngest daughter to the gym during his afternoon workouts.
“In terms of PTSD and traumatic brain injury, one of the things that’s important is bringing people back into a community,” Perry said. “I was a Navy corpsman stationed with the Marines, and you’re a family while you’re out there. A lot of the veteran organizations try to get people back into the community, with veterans and civilians interacting with one another in camaraderie. Crossfit is the one place where the last person working out gets the loudest cheers. If you go to a regular gym, no one’s cheering you on. Here, everyone sticks around until the last person is done. I have a family right here.
“ I try to push myself to do what I can do,” he continued. “When I have to scale something down to do it one-armed or whatever, I try to do whatever I can do. If I can’t, I ask John what I can do instead.”
While his injuries are a daily reminder of that day in 2006, Perry said, “I don’t curse the people that did it. I was put there at that place, at that time, for some unknown reason. I was the only survivor. I lost two guys who were with me. I have a feeling of completion about this whole injury. I know that one day I’ll see my buddies again. You can only live one day at a time. You just have to set a goal and go after it.”
Given how close Perry came to death, his determination to succeed is stronger than ever.
“The doctors said, as soon as I was coherent in the hospital, ‘You might never walk again.’ So I set out to prove that I would walk out of the hospital, which I did,” Perry said. “I pushed myself, and I’m not done. I assure you there will be something else that I want to do.”


Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline



toughkenamon crossfit gym soldier


You might also like

Thumb_greg-koontz-cub

New Garden Flying Field to hold Festival of Flight

The New Garden Flying Field will be hosting its 43rd annual Festival of Flight Air & Car Show on Aug. 23-24.
Thumb_new-garden-air-field

New Garden Flying Field to receive $1.2 million federal grant

Funding comes through PennDOT's aviation development program and the Federal Aviation Administration's block grant program.

New Garden Flying Field to host open house on June 14

Activities include free discovery flights, camping out on the grounds, and a movie under the stars.

  • Fitness Walks

    07/08/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/08/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/08/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/09/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/09/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • How Not to Kill Your Tree

    07/11/2015
    09:00am — 11:00am

    Every tree is a masterpiece of form, function, and value. This homeowner-friendly workshop presen...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Second Saturdays

    07/11/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    Join us on the Second Saturday of each month for special programming in our native plant gardens....


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/11/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/11/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/05/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Delaware Aerospace Overnight Academy

    07/05/2015
    12:00pm — 03:00pm

    Destination Moon academy is for students entering 7, 8, & 9th grade. The academy will run from J...


  • Week long academy at University of Delaware, Clayton Hall, from July 5th through July 10th for st...


  • Steamin' Day at Auburn Heights

    07/05/2015
    12:30pm — 04:30pm

    Celebrate stars, stripes, and steam during Steamin’ Day at Auburn Heights over the 4th of July ho...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/05/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/05/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/06/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/06/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/06/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/07/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/08/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/08/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/08/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/08/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/09/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/09/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • West Chester Applebee’s, located at 1107 W Chester Pike is hosting a bake sale July 10 through Ju...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/10/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/10/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • Friday Night Lights

    07/10/2015
    08:00pm — 11:00pm

    Natural Lands Trust's popular adults-only event returns for the fifth year! Enjoy a relaxing even...


  • How Not to Kill Your Tree

    07/11/2015
    09:00am — 11:00am

    Every tree is a masterpiece of form, function, and value. This homeowner-friendly workshop presen...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Second Saturdays

    07/11/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    Join us on the Second Saturday of each month for special programming in our native plant gardens....


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/11/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/11/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/12/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Save Our Monarchs

    07/12/2015
    12:30pm — 03:30pm

    Monarch butterfly numbers have declined more than 90% over the past 20 years. Habitat destruction...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/12/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/12/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/13/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/13/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/13/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/14/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/15/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/15/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/15/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/15/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/16/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/16/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/17/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/17/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/18/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Rockin For Camp Music Festival

    07/18/2015
    11:00am — 10:00pm

    Join the YMCA of Greater Brandywine’s Jennersville branch for a fun filled all day festival of m...


  • Civil War Brass Band Concert

    07/18/2015
    05:00pm

    On Saturday, July 18th the Mill at Anselma Preservation & Education Trust will present a concert ...


  • Evil Dead: The Musical

    07/18/2015
    08:00pm

    Bootless returns for a fourth round of Ash-Kicking! Five college students spend the weekend in ...


  • Integrated Pest Management

    07/18/2015
    08:30am — 05:00pm

    Every garden is home to a host of life. Unfortunately, some of these six- and eight-legged arthro...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/19/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Milburn Orchards Sundae Sunday

    07/19/2015
    12:00pm — 05:00pm

    Celebrate National Ice Cream Day at Milburn's on 7/19 with FREE face painting from 12-3pm, plus a...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/19/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/19/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Life in the 1860s Weekend

    07/19/2015
    10:00am — 04:00pm

    How did people dress and live in the 1860s? What was it like to be a miller at this time? Come ou...


  • Vacation Bible School

    07/20/2015
    09:00am — 12:00pm

    Vacation Bible School will be held July 20-24, 2015, 9 am until noon at The United Church of Chr...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/20/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/20/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Monday's are Whiskey nights at Minihane's

    07/20/2015
    05:00pm — 11:00pm

    Whisky is not the same as Whiskey! There is some debate about whether or not Scottish distill...


  • Debtors Anonymous

    07/20/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    In D.A., our purpose is threefold: to stop incurring unsecured debt, to share our experience wit...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/21/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/21/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • The Spayed Club now has THREE transport locations throughout the Greater Philadelphia area -- Pot...


  • Fitness Walks

    07/22/2015
    08:30am — 09:30am

    Turn off the treadmill and forget the gym! Start your day with an invigorating hour-long hike thr...


  • Native Plants of Summer

    07/22/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    When the exuberant spring wildflower display is over, summer challenges us to find eye-catching p...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/22/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Awaken Your Inner Artist: Drawing Workshop

    07/22/2015
    09:30am — 11:30am

    Release the artist within you! Enhance your creativity and artistic confidence by turning off you...


  • Gentle Yoga

    07/22/2015
    05:00pm — 06:00pm

    Reduce the aches and pains of age by increasing your range of motion through the practice of yoga...


  • Hatha Yoga

    07/22/2015
    06:30pm — 07:30pm

    This series of vigorous exercises is designed to strengthen the body and increase flexibility whi...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/23/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/23/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Clutterers Anonymous

    07/23/2015
    06:00pm — 07:00pm

    Clutterers Anonymous℠ (CLA℠) is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strengt...


  • Cecil County Fair

    07/24/2015
    08:00am — 09:00pm

    There is something for everyone at the Cecil County Fair. Highlights include the carnival midway,...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/24/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Glee Club Camp

    07/24/2015
    01:00pm — 03:00pm

    A half day Glee Camp for ages 7-14! Have fun singing and dancing to popular new songs! Small perf...


  • Cecil County Fair

    07/25/2015
    08:00am — 09:00pm

    There is something for everyone at the Cecil County Fair. Highlights include the carnival midway,...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Sunday Brunch

    07/25/2015
    11:00am — 02:00pm

    Every Sunday from 11-2PM Continental Buffet, Waffle bar, fresh fruits, Mimosa, Bloody Mary an...


  • Integrated Pest Management

    07/25/2015
    08:30am — 05:00pm

    Every garden is home to a host of life. Unfortunately, some of these six- and eight-legged arthro...


  • Blackberry Home-made & Hand-cranked Ice Cream making demonstrations, Pedal Tractor Pull competion...


  • Cecil County Fair

    07/26/2015
    08:00am — 09:00pm

    There is something for everyone at the Cecil County Fair. Highlights include the carnival midway,...


  • The Chester Springs Studio wood kiln is a two chamber noborigama, constructed in 2014 during a wo...


  • Half the Money, all the bottle. Every Tuesday

    07/26/2015
    11:00am — 09:00pm

    EVERY TUESDAY ‎Half the money, all the bottle.1/2 Price Bottle of Wine / Every Tuesday with your...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/26/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Taste Kennett Food Tours

    07/26/2015
    01:00pm — 04:00pm

    Taste Kennett Food Tours, creators of memorable, unique and fun food experiences, offer three-hou...


  • Blackberry Home-made & Hand-cranked Ice Cream making demonstrations, Pedal Tractor Pull competion...


Chester County High School Sports