This isn’t Israel Del Toro Jr.’s first competition. The retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant competed in 2014 at the inaugural Invictus Games in London.
This isn’t Bob Woodruff’s first Invictus Games, either. He was also with Del Toro in London two years ago, but their friendship goes even further back.
Del Toro of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the ABC News anchor have sat down together many times, and they came together again this week at the Invictus Games in Orlando, Florida, for the Paralympic-style sporting events.
“Not only do I see myself, how I’ve changed, I’ve evolved. I’m stronger, more confident.” Del Toro, 41, told Woodruff. “I saw how you were, how you evolved. It’s almost funny; we’ve been going toward the same journey together. We’d see each other here and there, and it’s been great.”
Woodruff suffered serious injuries in January 2006 while covering the war in Iraq, only two months after Del Toro was injured in Afghanistan.
Woodruff was embedded with the U.S. Army 4th Infantry Division when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq. Del Toro was injured in November 2005, also by an IED, suffering third-degree burns to 80 percent of his body, losing fingers on both hands and suffering nerve damage to his right food and inhalation burns.
Their experiences brought them together years ago and they have remained in contact ever since. These are two stories of transformation, shared again Sunday as Del Toro prepared to compete this week in powerlifting and cycling.