SEA GIRT — Capt. Domenico Lazzaro crossed the finish line to a roar of cheers at the fourteenth annual Sergeant Nutter Run at the Army National Guard Training Center in Sea Girt this past Saturday, a feat which just a year ago appeared impossible.
Capt. Lazzaro, the beneficiary of Saturday’s run, is just regaining his ability to walk again following a fall during an obstacle-course training exercise in June 2017, in which he suffered three broken ribs and two shattered vertebrae. A grueling 12-hour spinal surgery left him paralyzed from the waist down: “I spent 101 days inpatient at Magee Rehab in Philadelphia. I was an ASIA [American Spinal Injury Association]-A, which means no feeling or movement from the waist down … now I’m at an ASIA-D which means I have some sensory and motor function, ” he said Tuesday.
Capt. Lazzaro had previously served in the 112th Infantry in the Pennsylvania National Guard when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. After taking a 15-year break in service during which he battled and beat the cancer, Capt. Lazzaro re-enlisted in 2009 and obtained his commission as a military police officer in August 2012, according to the Sgt. Nutter website. “I really enjoy being a military police officer … this injury cost me a lot as far as career aspirations, I didn’t know if I’d be able to serve anymore,” Capt. Lazzaro said.
After walking as much of the race as he could for an hour, Capt. Lazzaro crossed the Sergeant Nutter Run finish line followed by his entire unit, the 328th Military Police Company of Cherry Hill, who walked the entire 5K race wearing more than 70 pounds of military gear. “It was heartwarming, the kind of thing I’d do for my soldiers,” Capt. Lazzaro said. Surrounded by cheers from all the race participants and spectators, Capt. Lazzaro finished the race under his own support with his wife, Myra, and children, Hunter and Austin.