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Veterans Center

CWU Presentation to Focus on a ‘Promise Kept’

Daniel Rodriguez will recount his personal journey from tragedy to triumph during two speaking engagements in May at Central Washington University.

The United States Army Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal recipient will make the keynote remarks at the Student Veteran Graduation Dinner on Monday, May 9.

A former National Football League player, Rodriguez will also be the featured speaker during a free, public presentation on Tuesday, May 10, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union and Recreation Center (SURC) Theatre, sponsored by the CWU Veterans Center and Campus Activities.

Despite his diminutive stature, at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Rodriguez was a standout prep wide receiver in Stafford, Virginia, with a plan to go on to college and then join the pros. Life intervened when his father, who was also his coach, passed away right after Rodriguez’s high school graduation.

In response, and to honor his dad who was a military veteran, Rodriguez joined the army, advancing up the ranks to sergeant. On separate duty tours, he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and ended up fighting—and seeing his best friend killed—in the Battle of Kamdesh, one of Afghanistan’s bloodiest conflicts. Rodriguez was involved in the fight for 12 hours despite suffering bullet fragments in his shoulder and shrapnel in his legs and neck.

Returning home from the battlefield, he was afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, including thoughts of suicide. But Rodriguez said he persevered by reminding himself of—and then started work to fulfill—a promise he made to his late friend: that he would keep pursuing his collegiate and professional football dreams.

“I started thinking to myself I need to live my life in this manner that whatever I do is positive and I need to start thinking differently,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez would go to star for the Clemson (South Carolina) University football team. He then signed professionally with the St. Louis Rams. Today, he is a motivational speaker through his company, “Dream Big.” His story is also chronicled in the autobiography, “Rise: A Soldier, a Dream, and a Promise Kept.”

Media contact: Diana Kellerman, office assistant, CWU Veterans Center, 509-963-3028, Kellerman@cwu.edu  

April 28, 2016

Photo: Daniel Rodriguez, courtesy Clemson University, Ashley Jones

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