Off road in the California desert, Jesse Williamson is getting ready for the Baja 500, a grueling 500-mile dirt bike race that takes place on Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.
But Williamson also faces an additional challenge. He's attempting to become the first double-amputee to compete in the race.
The retired Marine lost his legs below the knee from an I.E.D(Improvised Explosive Device) in Afghanistan in August 2009.
When he came back home, Williamson he got hooked on pain medications, slipped into depression and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"The things I was doing up there — not too proud of. I got into doing heroin,” Williamson, 23, said.
His friend 1st Sgt. Nick Hamm, a fellow Marine also from Wildomar, California, who was also wounded twice in combat, came to the rescue.
Hamm recruited Williamson to join 'Warrior Strong', a foundation he created to provide new motivation, camaraderie and support as veteran’s transition back to life after war.
The foundation provides vocation therapy in the Warrior Built Garage, a space devoted to off-road biking in Elsinore, California. It is staffed entirely by combat veterans.
The Baja 500, which is today to Sunday, will be the third race for Williamson, Hamm and friend Eric Nolan.
For these wounded warriors, motocross offers a new mission, a reason to soldier on.