TUCSON – Santiago “Tomahawk” Murillo is a popular super-fan, and is known among U of A circles in the sports world – especially when he dresses up as historic Arizona player “John Button” in old-school pads and football gear.
However, many don’t know Murillo has overcome a near-death accident, only to continue his work with scientists in Antarctica in hopes of saving the world from the effects of climate change.
Here’s the special report as seen on News 4 Tucson:
The Pueblo High Warrior Alum and U of A’s very own “John Buttons” ardent fan, Santiago Murillo, is an avid cyclist who suffered a severe crash near downtown and I-10.
It’s now taken over four years of extensive and intensive multiple surgeries and physical therapies just to allow him to once again walk and no longer use a wheelchair, crutches, or cane.
Murillo’s comeback included intensive boxing training, underwater physical therapy, and cycling again.
Santiago Murillo, who his friends affectionately call “Tomahawk” has an improbable comeback that goes beyond his stunning story of survival.
As a member of the National Geographic Society, Murillo’s returned to his first love, science.
In late October and November of last year, Murillo volunteered to take part in a scientific expedition and re-supply mission to the inhospitable continent of Antarctica.
“Humanity is in complete denial as to the damages that we’re doing in our environment,” said Murillo. “Unfortunately, we don’t live long enough to notice the changes and irreversible damages that we’re doing to our own planet”
Murillo was part of a group of scientist from 32 nations that traveled to Antarctica for the continual science and survey studies concerning the effects of global climate change.
“It happened last week: the effects of climate change. Look at the polar vortex that affected the United States,” said Murillo.
As Murillo put it, “(There’s) the highly possible effects of a pending viral/microbial global pandemic catastrophe, along with the shifting of the Magnetic Poles that’s already taking place on our planet.”
At the age of 16, Pueblo High School, Stanford and Arizona alum Santiago Murillo was a part of a published science experiment that gave way to the use of liquid medications that avoided extensive surgeries to patients suffering from various pancreatic and gallbladder ailments, and received honorable mention from the Nobel Committee in both medicine and science.
He was an assistant to his mentor at the VA hospital, Margarito Chavez. “I did whatever it took for the advancement of science,” said Murillo.
Murillo has been recognized and highly respected in various academic circles, from science to law.
Of the around 7.5 billion people that now populate our planet, Murillo says he’s only one of 11,032 living members of the National Geographic Society. He was inducted in 2006.
His generosities have also been recognized by the United States Olympic Boxing Teams in Training Techniques and Defensive Strategies. Murillo said, “There is no better training out there, than a full boxing workout.”
News 4 Tucson’s Paul Cicala first reported on Santiago “TOMAHAWK” Murillo back in June of 2016, when he was involved in a horrific bicycle accident that left him paralyzed from the base of his neck for 19 excruciating hours.
The accident happened while training for the Tour De Tucson. He went from a wheelchair, to a walker, to crutches, and then a walking cane.
It’s now been 4 years since that horrific day that Santiago Murillo somehow survived.
“My God!,” exclaimed Murillo as he reflected on that day, “It was frightening to be quite honest with you, but I survived it.”
Despite all he’s done, Murillo says his greatest accomplishment was teaching Mama-TOMAHAWK how to read and write in 2 languages and get her ’85 GEDs in two languages.
“My mom raised us on waitress tips,” said Murillo, who grew up in the projects just south of downtown Tucson. “She taught me never to give up.”
Santiago TOMAHAWK Murillo defines perseverance and tenacity. “You can’t measure the heart of a volunteer,” said Murillo.