By Julie Buehler

When you watch children playing on a playground, there’s a certain freedom they enjoy, a certain carefree exuberance that makes watching them a blast. So the tragedy that befell Adrian Grajeda and his family this past January when an out-of-control motorist careened into Grajeda’s schoolyard, sending debris flying and hit the 10-year-old was particularly heartbreaking.

A young athlete, Grajeda would require his leg to be amputated from the mid-shin and for the rest of his life he would need a prosthetic limb.

A carefree child playing on his schoolyard had his life forever changed because of the carelessness of a reckless driver, but only months after the multiple surgeries and once his young legs learned how to move again, one with it’s natural gate, the other with help from science, Grajeda was playing soccer again and inspiring the community behind his resilience, optimism and love for the game.

This past week, his mother, Brandy Grajeda, and him flew to Lexington, Kentucky where Adrian was one of 20 children from around the country who got to play softball with Wounded Warriors, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and learn that he’s not alone. He may have known that before, thanks to community fundraisers and outpouring of support, but at the camp, he’d be meeting other kids, other adults who look just like him, and are playing sports.

The purpose behind the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team is to do just that: allow those who have lost limbs to hold onto hope that their life, their activity level, needn’t suffer due to physical limitations. And while I’m confident, after speaking with Brandy, that the mission was accomplished for the 20 children, I can guarantee, they aren’t the only ones benefitting from the experience.

The Wounded Warriors are passing along wisdom they learned through sacrifice and voluntarily serving our nation. The parents of the children can take heart that organizations out there care enough to sponsor and deliver such a wonderful opportunity for their children. You and I can understand that while the world of sports is full of me-first-big-pay-day divas, it’s also one of the most profound sources of incredibly inspirational, hopeful stories in our mainstream society.

The truth is, inspiration, hope, the ability to sculpt optimism from tragedy are life lessons that must be etched through experience and the world of sports is an endless cornucopia of instances that illustrate the power of such.

Whether it’s a 3rd round draft pick who was too small to play in the NFL delivering the Seattle Seahawks’ first Super Bowl victory, the LA Kings unwillingness to give up in a series or a game, or a boy faced with tragedy who used the soccer field to feel normal again, without the grand spectrum of sport, how else would such magnificent moments, such powerful lessons be brought to light?

I’m just glad, for Adrian’s sake, for our sake, young or old, that life’s greatest lessons can be taught through such seemingly simple games.

Julie Buehler hosts the Coachella Valley’s most popular sports talk radio show, “Buehler’s Day Off” every day from 3-6 on 1010 KXPS, the valley’s all sports station. She’s an avid gym rat, slightly sarcastic and more likely to recite Steve Young’s career passing stats than American Idol winners. Tune in M-F 3-6 pst at or watch the show on Ustream.