Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Injured SEAL's Friends Staging Fundraiser--SATURDAY

LA JOLLA — Just 36 hours into his fourth combat deployment, Navy Lt. Dan Cnossen, commanding a Coronado-based SEAL platoon, stepped on a land mine on a hilltop in southern Afghanistan.

The blast Sept. 7 blew off both of Cnossen's legs, damaged his internal organs and nearly cost the mountain climber and triathlete his life.

“When he left Afghanistan, it was kind of a 50/50 proposition whether he'd make it or not,” said Lt. Brian Ray, his longtime friend and former Naval Academy roommate. “Someone who wasn't in the kind of shape he was probably wouldn't have made it.”

Six weeks and 25 surgeries later, Cnossen is recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., cracking up visitors with his relentless jokes.

On Saturday his Navy and triathlete friends from the San Diego area are holding a fundraiser in La Jolla to help Cnossen and his family, who live in Topeka, Kan., with expenses.

“A lot of people wanted to help. This was a way for us to focus everybody's energy,” said close friend and fellow SEAL Marty, who asked that his last name be withheld because SEALs and other special forces work undercover.

The event, called “Dan's Aquathlon,” begins at 9 a.m. in front of Tower 30 at La Jolla Shores Beach on Avenida de la Playa. In honor of Cnossen's love of athletics, it will combine a 500-meter ocean swim and a 5 km beach run. About 180 people already have signed up to participate, Marty said, for an entry fee of $25. Thirty more of Dan's friends are volunteers...

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