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How Becoming An Amputee Inspired Me To Be An Adaptive Athlete

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Buddy Elias

Smoking Cigarettes Caused Me to Become An Amputee

In 2000 at the age of 29, I had an allergic reaction to cigarettes. The reaction caused my blood vessels to swell, leading to tissue damage that resulted in amputation of my leg below the knee. At that moment, everything changed as I was thrown into a whole new way of life. When I came home from the hospital and began the healing process, my five year old daughter asked me “Daddy, how are you going to run and play with me?” I hugged my daughter tight and told her, “don’t worry about daddy, he’s going to be just fine.”  With the help of my faith, friends, and family, I began the journey to finding my new “normal.”

I Became A Double Amputee

In 2008, my stump developed gangrene resulting in my second amputation, this time above the knee. Not long after my second amputation, I accompanied my nephew to a skate park. While sitting back watching my nephew skate, I looked at a small rail and thought “I can totally handle that.” I grabbed a skateboard and got down on my hands and leg and began to teach myself to skate. This was the tipping point that reignited my passions, I realized that with or without my leg, nothing could stop me.

When winter rolled around, it had been nearly a year since I had last gone snowboarding. Aware that I would be unable to use a standard snowboard, I looked into ways to modify my existing board. I worked with friends and family members and used materials from my local Home Depot to create a crutch that would attach to my snowboard.

I officially became an “Adaptive Athlete,” developed the handle “Buddy 1 Leg (or B1L)” and continued to follow my passions. Local news channels and organizations began contacting me, at which point I remember a whole lot changed.

The same snowboard that I first modified was recently donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and was on display in their adaptive sports exhibit in October 2016.

Due to circulatory issues related to my cigarette allergy, I have now had three bypass surgeries since 2000.

Community Involvement & Inspiration

I have a number of adaptive athletes who are my inspiration, and that helped me get where I am today. Such athletes include Oscar Loreto Jr., Professional Adaptive Skateboarder, Jon Comer, the first Professional Skateboarder with a prosthetic limb, and Chris Gentry, Professional Adaptive Skateboarder.  To honor my own mentors, I hope to pay it forward and help disabled kids learn to skate and snowboard.

I am active in the community and work with various adaptive sports organizations, including Adaptive Action Sports where I have been a mentor and coach since 2006. I am also active with ASK (Adaptive Skate Kollective), a nonprofit organization which hosts clinics for individuals with disabilities. They also raise money to help get wheelchairs and prosthetics for kids and motivate kids and adults with disabilities.

I attribute my success to my Faith, Family, and Friends. My faith allows me to recognize that everything happens for a reason, while my family and friends provide me with the motivation to get out there and keep going, adding that failure is never an option. I never looked at becoming “disabled” as a disability – I simply focus on being the best father and athlete I can be.

They can take my arms and legs and I’ll have them duct tape me to a skateboard or snowboard and push me down a hill.   In reference to how cigarette smoking resulted in the loss of my legs, I hold no resentment but instead feel that I owe cigarettes a gratitude for introducing me to this world.

Originally Published: http://101mobility.com/blog/buddy-elias-adaptive-athlete-mentor/

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