Faith, Family Guide Amputee Athlete
By Margarita Mendoza, Editor El Observador
October 13, 2022
OSWEGO—Jorge Torres, a high-performance athlete and member of St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Aurora, didn’t realize that a leg fracture he suffered while playing soccer would one day save his life. 
 
“I lost my leg with a bone cancer … The doctors said that thanks to the broken bone the cancer … separated and didn’t activate as it (was) supposed to,” he says. 
 
Torres was eight years old when his soccer skills became apparent, and he was often invited to play with older players.  When he was 13 years old, he played with youth divisions of Atlas Fútbol Club, a team from Morelia, Mexico. His games involved travel, including several games in Argentina. “Everything seemed to be good,” he says. 
 
Then Torres received a dream offer: a “contract with Guadalajara.”
 
Club Deportivo Guadalajara, based in Sapopan, Jalisco, is one of Mexico’s largest soccer teams. It was a huge opportunity, especially for someone his age — like signing a contract with the Chicago Cubs or Green Bay Packers as a teenager. 
 
However, the leg fracture he had suffered at age 13 continued to pain him. “I didn’t pay attention because I was focused on playing. I didn’t focus on other stuff like going to the doctor. It was annoying going to the doctor … then, the doctors decided to send me to surgery, two weeks before the contract started.” 
 
His parents brought him to Mexico City for treatment. “I thought it was part of the contract … and they wanted me to be healthy … I spend like two weeks in tests and all that stuff,” he said. Little did Torres know his life was about to take an unexpected twist. 
 
The doctor asked him, “When do you want me to cut (i.e. amputate) your leg?” 
 
Torres recalls his shock. “The time ran slowly. Everything was quiet.” 
 
The pain in his leg had previously been downplayed. “I [was] supposed to have surgery for my broken leg from six months ago. They [his doctors, parents and team] said that it was something that … needed to be fix(ed), not a big issue,” Torres says. 
 
He stayed in the hospital while he healed, suffering through extreme pain and 
disorientation. 
 
“Some days I could hear everything. Somedays I couldn’t hear anything. Somedays I could see, some other days I couldn’t see anything. Somedays I couldn’t smell anything, and other days I could smell from miles,” he says. 
 
For much of his time in the hospital, he didn’t eat. He received vitamins through a catheter connected into a vein. He lost weight and his sense of balance to the extent that a strong wind could knock him down.
 
As Torres lost strength, he lost hope. He told his mother, María Hinojosa, “I can’t do it anymore. It's a lot of pain, and I’m just confined here. I'm not comfortable, and I don't want to be like this. Let me go now, please don't keep me like this.” 
 
His mother asked him to reflect on the dedication of his doctors and nurses and reminded him of his family’s dedication as well. “She said, ‘Don’t you want to be with me anymore?’” he recalls, and “I didn’t find an answer to that.” 
 
Then came a source of motivation. If Torres ate and gained weight, he could walk with a prosthetic leg instead of using a wheelchair. He did it.
 
Torres finished his education in a Catholic school, then studied business administration in college. He met his wife, Cynthia Espino, and came to live in the United States. They eventually settled down in the Aurora area and became members of St. Rita of Cascia Parish. They have two children: 10-year-old daughter, Alexia; and 12-year-old son, Julian. 
 
“They are a very committed family. You can see that it is a family that has a firm faith; they are very united, and very humble. Their children help in the church as altar servers,” says Father Oscar Cortes, St. Rita pastor.
 
Faith is “the most important part for us,” says Espino. “In every aspect we have God in our lives. When we drop them at school, we pray.  We go to Mass every weekend, because if (we) don’t go we feel that we missed something. Our house was blessed. He [Torres] is here because of God’s grace, because he was able to go through cancer and beat it. In everything we do we see God working,” she says. 
 
As it turned out, cancer may have halted soccer for Torres, but not all sports. 
 
He found out about Dare2Tri, a nonprofit organization that strives “to enhance the lives of individuals with physical disabilities and visual impairments by building confidence, community, health and wellness through swimming, biking, and running,” according to its website. He began competing in something completely new for him: the triathlon. 
 
His wife and children help during his training and competitions. “We are volunteers with his triathlon team, we take care of the assistance dogs. We help with the setup for the competitions, among other activities,” she says. 
 
“I’m very proud of him,” Espino says. “I always knew he had great potential and... I’m glad he is finally seeing what I’ve seen all along. We are always there to support him and encourage him.” 
 
Torres keeps several medals and trophies of his achievements. On July 17 he took second place in the 2022 USA Paratriathlon National Championships. Currently his goal is to make the U.S. Triathlon National Team.  
 
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