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After suffering catastrophic injuries as the result of a landmine in Afghanistan, Israel “DT” Del Toro was given a 15 percent chance of survival. Then his doctors told him he was going to be in the hospital for another year, that he may never walk again, and he’d probably be stuck on a respirator for the rest of his life. But DT had a promise to keep to his son: that he would never have to grow up without a father.
Master Sergeant Israel "DT" Del Toro's fight to survive began on the side of a mountain near Qalat, Afghanistan, after his Humvee detonated a concealed landmine. He suffered third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body, as well as losing fingers on both hands from the blast. His comrades kept him conscious until DT could be airlifted out by reminding him of the promise he'd made that he would not leave his three year-old son without a father.
That promise, along with the love and support of his family – his wife, his son, and his Air Force comrades – made possible a story of overcoming the greatest of odds. A recipient of the Pat Tillman Award at the 2017 ESPYs, DT now shares his story of triumph with audiences across the country, inspiring those that hear it to push themselves further if they know what they're fighting for.
Israel Del Toro Receives Pat Tillman Award For Service | The ESPYS
Israel Del Toro & Son
A History of Resilience
Overcoming All Odds
Finding Light in the Darkness
Through many hardships and tribulations, Sgt. Israel "DT" Del Toro’s life has been defined by absolute devotion to family. From an early age, he was thrust into the role of provider for his four siblings. He was 12 when his father died of a heart attack, and a short time later his mother was killed by a drunk driver. As the oldest of four children, and just a teenager, Israel became the provider for his family. “The last thing he ever told me was promise you’ll always take care of your family,” Del Toro said of his father.
That promise, echoed in another he made his son – that he would never have to grow up without a father – got him through many hard days filled with surgeries, skin grafts and grueling physical therapy. Once given a 15 percent chance of survival, he's gone on to not only re-enlist in the Air Force, but also set records and win a gold medal at the 2016 Invictus Games. DT has taken the lessons he learned through hardship and recovery and now finds purpose sharing his story and wisdom with audiences around the country in the hopes of helping others find the light in the darkness.