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Motivational speaker John Kriesel to visit Worthington

WORTHINGTON — A U.S. veteran, Minnesota politician, author, talk-show contributor and motivational speaker will make an appearance Wednesday in Worthington to share how his life changed following a near-death experience during his mission in Iraq.

Sponsored by Minnesota West Community and Technical College, John Kriesel — a Minnesota National Guard veteran, former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and contributor to KFAN radio’s “Power Trip Morning Show” — will share the details of his decision to join the military at age 17, and how his life was altered following his deployment tragedy that nearly killed him after his encounter with a 200-pound improvised explosive device. He was revived three times, underwent 35 surgeries and turned to a positive attitude to propel him to the stage to inspire others.

The free event, open to the public, kicks off at noon Wednesday in the Worthington campus Center for Health and Wellness gymnasium.

“Minnesota West would be honored for people to come out and hear him speak,” said Kile Behrends, Minnesota West student advisor.

Behrends said the college is excited to host the event she thinks will be motivating for community members, college students and area school district students, particularly around Veterans Day.

Kriesel, of Cottage Grove, gained traction as a motivational speaker after the publication of his book, “Still Standing,” which immediately begins as a recollection of Dec. 2, 2006 — the day he and his comrades’ fully armored Humvee was blasted by an IED.

He recalls his thoughts and feelings as he lay on a dirt road in Iraq — nearly bleeding to death — and waking up from an eight-day medically induced coma to learn about the death of his two best friends and severity of his injuries, which included the loss of both legs.

He attributes an amazing support system, positive attitude and sense of humor to allow him to bounce back stronger than ever.