NORCO - For three years, he lay in bed, paralyzed not only by a spinal-cord injury and a neurological disorder but by depression.

Mohan Prasad Vallabhapurapu, 52, was left immobile and paralyzed on the left side of his foot from injuries he sustained while on duty with the Navy in 2001.

The Norco resident said he had to cross many hurdles, mental and physical, to be where he is today.

"I can't believe it. I'm blessed with a lot of things, my courage, my strength," he said. "I've come a long way."

Now, Vallabhapurapu, a combat veteran of the Gulf War and a nine-time gold medal winner of National Veterans Wheelchair Games, has been selected by General Mills to be featured on the front of Cheerios boxes. The cereal boxes will only be distributed at Southern California veterans hospitals.

On Friday, Vallabhapurapu will be at Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda signing autographs. He is also helping launch the Veterans Affairs Healthier US Veterans program, which encourages veterans and staff to get healthier through physical activity.

"Mentally, we can accomplish anything in this life. It's just one day at a time," he said.

Through his turmoil and hardships, Vallabhapurapu said he wants to serve as a role model and hopes to pass on words of inspiration to other veterans in his position.

"Even these disabilities are not going to stop me. There is much more for me to accomplish," he