Edit ModuleShow Tags

Urban Miyares

Profile


Published:

THE WAY URBAN MIYARES SEES HIMSELF isn’t how others view him. “People forget I’m blind,” says Miyares, guiding light of San Diego–based Challenged America, a nonprofit devoted to improving the lives of disabled veterans through job training and sports. “I try not to act blind. It’s not easy, you know.”

Miyares lost his sight at 20, when he was an Army sergeant in the Vietnam War. “After I went into a diabetic coma during a firefight, they thought I was dead and tossed me into a body bag,” he says. An alert medic, detecting a faint heartbeat, rescued him. Miyares spent the next six months in a military hospital slowly recovering, not unlike the thousands of disabled vets he’s since helped and counseled.

Now 59, he’s overcome numerous obstacles. “I can’t see, and I’m hearing-impaired,” says the Rancho Peñasquitos resident. “I’ve had a stroke. My thyroid was removed. I had a kidney transplant. I have problems with balance. I’m classified as a walking paraplegic because of nerve damage in my legs. I have digestive issues.”

But is he bitter? Hardly.

“I’m alive,” says Miyares, unfazed by his handicaps. “That’s one advantage of working with the disabled: There’s always someone who’s worse off than you.”

Largely because of his efforts, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting the inaugural National Summer Sports Clinic, set for September 28–October 3 at various San Diego venues. Nearly 100 disabled veterans will engage in “friendly competition” in sailing, surfing, kayaking and cycling — sports many of them have never tried before. Each participant must be a current patient in a V.A. hospital. “They all have some form of post-traumatic stress syndrome,” says Miyares, “plus anything from brain injuries to amputation, spinal cord injuries, visual impairment and neurological disorders.”

Miyares, a native of New York, says bringing the event to his adopted home is one of his life’s many blessings. Sailing, he says, is another. An avid sailor, he’s led a crew of disabled sailors in competitive races from Los Angeles to Honolulu several times. Also a snow skier, he still holds the world record for the fastest downhill by a totally blind skier (63 miles per hour), clocked in the early 1990s at Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe and again at Calgary, Canada.

“I look at the extreme,” he says. “What’s the max I can do before I can’t go any farther? Most people stop when they hit a barrier. But if I want to do something, I find a way.”

Miyares, who’s been married for 40 years to JoAnn, is unfailingly friendly, witty and quick to laugh. He travels frequently as a motivational speaker and has written several books about overcoming life’s setbacks.

“When you have a disability, life becomes a team sport,” he says. “Helping each other get through it is the best therapy I know. A lot of these wounded soldiers feel lost and abandoned. I know how that feels. But compared to them, I’m lucky.”

Miyares won’t actually see the disabled ex-soldiers learning sports that could impact their lives forever. “But I’ll feel it in my heart,” he says.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Mother’s Day 2015

Where to take Mom for brunch on May 10, plus spa specials and art/nature events

Oceana Coastal Kitchen’s Grand Opening

Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa, March 4, 2015

State of the Heart Gala

Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, February 28, 2015
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote now: Best Restaurants 2015
    From best chefs to top tacos, you choose San Diego's best eats and drinks in 63 categories
  2. San Diego's Top 50 Trails
    From hiking the foothills to biking the beach, this is a city made for exploring outdoors. Here’s our latest, greatest checklist of trails we love—some in your own backyard
  3. I Tried It: The New Jazzercise
    When I hear the word “Jazzercise,” neon leotards, leg warmers, headbands, and old ladies come to mind
  4. R.I.P.: Mike "Bossman" Hardin
    The San Diego restaurant scene lost a legend last week when Mike “Bossman” Hardin of Hodad’s passed away
  5. The Best of North County 2015
    Our annual homage to the newest restaurants, shops, and activities keeping the region above I-56 the cool place it is—haute strip malls, million-dollar tract homes, and all!
  6. Best Neighborhoods in San Diego
    Our annual neighborhood guide explores where to settle if you're a foodie, outdoors-lover, just starting out, or urban-obsessed
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

La Jolla Music Society Events

The La Jolla Music Society's 2015 Calendar
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

'Tis The Season

Winter in the desert cities

100 Works of Art to See Before You Die in San Diego

Local art critics, museum directors, and the big kahunas of the art world picked their must-see paintings, sculptures, and buildings with a special checklist just for you
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags