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Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.) Romulo “Romy” Camargo has always lived a rare life, but never so much as he does now.

Romy, a first generation American, knew from a young age that he wanted to fight for his country. He enlisted in the Army and pushed himself to become the best of the best, serving first with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment and then becoming one of fewer than 1 percent of soldiers who earn the coveted Green Beret and serve in U.S. Army Special Forces.

As a Special Forces soldier, Romy deployed multiple times to Africa, South America and Afghanistan. Then, on September 16, 2008 during his third deployment to Afghanistan, Romy volunteered for a humanitarian mission. His own mission had been scrapped and, rather than sit around doing nothing, he went with a medical team to provide medical care to local Afghans. Though it was considered a low risk mission, Romy’s detachment was ambushed that day.

As bullets rained down on the entire team, Romy gave up his own more secure seat in their vehicle to another soldier and volunteered to expose himself to danger. He took a gunshot wound to the back of his neck and his fellow soldiers saw him go down. As he lay limp in the vehicle, the other soldiers repelled the attack and the medic ran to Romy. They turned his lifeless body over and immediately did an emergency tracheotomy, all in the midst of a firefight.

No one thought Romy would live. He lived.

Medical experts told him he would never breathe without a ventilator — now he does.

Doctors told him that he would never be able to walk again or to use his arms, but Romy works relentlessly, every day, to accomplish those goals. And he doesn’t just work for himself.

With the non-stop effort and dedication of his wife Gaby, Romy opened Stay in Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center on June 20, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. For years he and Gaby had spent nearly two hours each day driving to and from the nearest rehab facility. They realized that having a center in Tampa would not only benefit them, it would benefit others, as well. Stay in Step has cutting-edge rehab programs and equipment that allow quadriplegics and paraplegics to stand and exercise and provides support, motivation and inspiration for patients and their caregivers. The Stay in Step Foundation, a 501(c)(3), helps make the top-notch care possible.

The center provides treatment for veterans and civilians from all over the United States. At Stay in Step patients get to recover alongside rare individuals like Romy, who brush off words like “never” and push on for the future they know is possible; people who inspire everyone around them to work harder, do more and be better.

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