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SUPERIOR - Every year, thousands of people train to compete in one of the world's top cross country ski events -- the American Birkebeiner. However, Augusto Perez isn't like the rest.
"It was a challenge. It was a change because I was really active. I played soccer my entire life and I was diagnosed with a really rare type of cancer," said Perez.
Perez came to the United States from Spain in 1991, during his senior year of high school. He was first diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in 2000. He beat that bout, but was diagnosed two more times before he had to make a life changing decision.
He said, "Eventually, I had to choose to take the leg to save my life."
Perez didn't let the loss of a limb bring him down.
In 2005, he picked up wheelchair curling for the first time, managing to make both the 2006 and 2010 Paralympic Games representing the U.S. But, it was on a curling trip to Sweden where he fell in love with a new challenge, nordic skiing.
"When I started nordic I called the coaches and said send me a workout and I don't want you to give me a beginners workout, give me what you have and I'll deal with the pain, don't worry about it," he said.
Three months later he competed in the 2011 World Cup in Norway. But just last October, after 9–years cancer free, Perez learned that the cancer had returned. He would need radiation treatment just weeks before preparing to compete in the 2013 World Cup in Cable, Wisconsin.
The competitor in Perez wouldn't let the treatment slow him up, asking doctors to increase the dosage in order to be ready to compete.
"He's got drive. Just to have the cancer in late October, double radiation the Friday before the competition, then come and ski six events. He did great. You would have never known that," said Eve Stein, Perez's guide for the American Birkebeiner.
Stein, was the chief of timing for the World Cup in Cable. Now, she's teaming up with Perez to try to conquer the American Birkebeiner.
"He wanted to do the Birkie and I said if you end up doing it I'll be your guide," said Stein.
Perez was too late to set–up a support team in time to race the full Birkie, but he and Stein will embark on the 23–kilometer Kortelopet, a feat not many sit skiers have ever attempted.
Perez said, "It's going to be rough, but it's going to be fun. If it was easy why do it? Basically my goal is not to break any record, not to break any time, it's to finish. Right now, this is like going through cancer. It's just a mental game."