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Veteran from Muscoda on Cosmo bachelor list

Wednesday, Neil Schalk, Cosmo 's Wisconsin Bachelor 2007, will head to New York to face a day filled with media, capped by the magazine 's Bachelor of the Year party.

http://www.madison.com/wsj/home/column/index.php?ntid=251429&ntpid=1

TUE., OCT 16, 2007 - 5:45 PM
Melanie Conklin

That 's when the magazine will announce which of the 50 bachelors has won its national title in online voting.

But Schalk, a 21-year-old from Muscoda, isn 't just another attractive guy.

The former Marine fought and was seriously injured in Iraq in 2005, when he was hit by the blast from a bomb that injured his left hand, leaving it nonfunctional, and took two fingers and a portion of his right hand. Schalk earned a Purple Heart.

"I 've had 13 surgeries and I only have two functional fingers, " he says. "But I don 't want people to feel sorry for me. "

Schalk says his sister, Natalee Schalk, reads Cosmo and nominated him for the contest. Since he was selected, he 's been getting all kinds of messages of support -- from old friends and strangers.

Schalk 's mother, Tracey Schalk, spread the word to other Marine families via a Marine parents Web site.

"Best part of this experience so far is how people have stepped up to support Neil, which in turn has supported MarineParents.com, " Tracey Schalk says.

"That site has helped our entire family through the Marine Corps experience from Day One when Neil left for boot camp. The site offers a wealth of information and friendship. "

And Schalk hasn 't let his injury slow him down. He 's running the Marine Corps marathon on Oct. 28 in Washington, D.C., to raise money for Purple Heart Family Support. (For more information, visit MarineParents.com).

He started college this fall at UW-Richland Center in biology and plans to study next year with his sister in New Zealand, where he hopes to compete in an Ironman. He also has signed up for Ironman Wisconsin next fall.

But this week, Schalk simply has to survive Cosmo 's media day, which might involve appearances on such national news shows as Today. ' '

"I 'm not easily stressed out. I 'm pretty laid back, " he says. "But this is stressing me out. "