St. Petersburg native honored for perseverance

Associated Press
Published August 17, 2005

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Lt. Col. Andrew Lourake, a St. Petersburg native who became the first U.S. military pilot to resume active duty after an above-the-knee amputation, was honored Tuesday for his courage and perseverance.

The Will Return Council of Assurant Employee Benefits gave Lourake its 2005 Shining Star of Perseverance. Hundreds of Assurant employees gathered in a downtown Kansas City hotel ballroom to applaud him.

Lourake, 44, said it's hard to imagine himself in the same category as past Shining Star award recipients, including former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole.

"I've got pretty good at telling my story," Lourake said. "But I'm not the big deal here."

An off-road motorcycle accident in 1998 caused the amputation of one of his legs, grounding him as a pilot for the U.S. Air Force. But Lourake fought his way back into the air with the help of a computerized prosthetic leg.