This article originally appeared on the Jewish Herald-Voice

An Israeli Paralympics tennis star and former air force helicopter pilot is coming to Houston to launch the inaugural IDF Heroes & Legends Series.

Sponsored by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces-Texas Chapter and Congregation Beth Yeshurun, the event on Tuesday, Sept. 20, will feature remarks and Q&A from Maj. Noam Gershony, who took home Israel’s first gold medal from the 2012 Paralympics in London, following a deadly helicopter crash he survived during the Second Lebanon War.

“Maj. Noam Gershony represents the embodiment of the Jewish spirit of survival, persistence in overcoming immense difficulties and looking at the horizon with the aim of triumphing, despite all odds,” said Max Blankfeld, Texas chair of FIDF. “He represents the story of the Jewish people.”

Gershony rose as a wheelchair tennis star in the aftermath of tragedy.

The pilot’s helicopter crashed during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Gershony’s co-pilot was killed, and the 23-year-old Gershony was critically wounded. Doctors feared that he would succumb to his injuries.

Miraculously, Gershony lived. A few years into rehab, the new wheelchair-user took up tennis. In 2010, he was playing competitively on the international level.

Gershony represented his country at the 2012 London Paralympics, winning a gold medal in the men’s wheelchair tennis singles competition, as well as a bronze medal in doubles. Having earned Israel’s first gold medal in London, he was granted the honor of carrying the Israeli flag during the Game’s closing ceremonies.

“I never thought I’d represent the state in anything,” the Israeli Paralympian told reporters after his singles win. “You can’t explain the feeling that runs through you when the anthem is played in front of so many people.

“I’m on top of the world,” he said.