“When I was first wounded I accepted the fact I might not make it. After surviving, I was extremely grateful and tried to not take life for granted and to appreciate the time.”
Sgt. Keith Knoop had been a top athlete in his Army reservist unit until Sept. 30, 2009. An explosion from a roadside bomb penetrated his armored truck as he drove through southern Iraq, nearly killing him.
“The blast tore apart my right leg resulting in major blood loss along with a broken femur, knee, and hip. It was a rush to get me to a hospital due to how much blood I was losing. Without blood transfusions I would not have survived.”
Altogether, Keith received nearly a dozen blood transfusions, some of them after he was transferred stateside to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas where he endured over a dozen surgeries to repair his leg.
“When I was first wounded I accepted the fact I might not make it. After surviving, I was extremely grateful and tried to not take life for granted and to appreciate the time. But, I was crushed knowing I might not be the guy I was before. I have been an active person all my life and running is important because it’s an outlet for me. No matter what’s going on in my life, running helps me to not focus on the negative but focus on myself and appreciate where I’m at.”
The injury meant a long road to recovery, and it also eliminated his chance of running the 2010 Lincoln Half Marathon alongside his twin brother, Ken.
The duo had been workout partners since 2005 after graduating from Beatrice High School and joining the Army Reserves. They trained together until Keith deployed to Iraq.
Back on TrackA year and seven months after the explosion, the brothers finished the 2011 Lincoln Half Marathon. While Keith wasn’t completely healed, he worked hard to get to that moment.
That half marathon was just the beginning. The brothers motivated one another through countless 5K and 10K runs, including the Leprechaun Chase and the Goodlife Halfsy, and obstacle-course races like the Tough Mudder and the Lincoln Mud Run. In June 2015, Keith and Ken performed on a special, all military edition of the NBC television show, “American Ninja Warrior.” In 2018, the duo have already completed 15 races and look forward to next year’s season.
While running and staying in shape are important to Keith, so is being a blood donor. To make it work with his training schedule, Keith donates blood during recovery periods or when he’s not going to be training at 100 percent.
“If you’re able, there’s really no excuse not to. Just get in and do it,” Keith said. “It doesn’t take that much time and you are going to be helping someone. You never know who that person could be, but it could be you or someone you know. You could change their life. It changed mine.”
Learn more about athletes and blood donation.