This article is sponsored by Citi.
As a U.S. Marine, Carlos Leon put his life on the line for his country while serving in Iraq in 2005. The North Lauderdale native escaped serious injury during war only to go on leave and experience a life-changing event: Carlos broke his neck in a diving accident and suffered impairments to all four limbs.
After an eye-opening conversation with Paralympian Gabe Diaz de Leon, Carlos, 27, started training rigorously in field events such as the discus. His efforts paid off when he became one of the first Iraq war veterans to compete at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games.
Adding to his list of accomplishments, Carlos is now one of 13 athletes whom Citi is sponsoring in its Every Step of the WaySM program. This innovative digital program benefits U.S. Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls and athletes of all ages in communities across America.
Already a corporate sponsor of Team USA and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), Citi wanted to do more by creating a way to help fund U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Sport Programs that have inspired Citi's team of 13 athletes. They also wanted to make it possible for its customers and Olympic fans to get in on the action.
Citi launched its program with a $500,000 donation to the USOC represented by 50 million ThankYou® Points - the currency of Citi ThankYou Rewards. The unique Every Step of the Way program allows fans to help allocate these ThankYou Points to Sport Programs through activity on Facebook and Twitter, allowing Team Citi athletes to say "thank you" to the Sport Programs that have inspired them.
The more fans participate through Facebook and Twitter, the more ThankYou Points they can direct to their Sport Program of choice, until its goal is reached. At the end of the program, the USOC will use Citi's donation to give the cash equivalent of the ThankYou Points directly to the Sport Program matched with the Team Citi athlete.
Carlos is supporting the Warrior Games, a competition among wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women from all branches of the military. Carlos is competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where he is showcasing his skills as an elite thrower and is inspiring others who have served our country to eventually forge the same path to the Olympic or Paralympic Games.