Triple Amputee Veteren skydiving, alligator wrestling, surfing?

February 7, 2013

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Todd Love – Triple Amputee Veteran

I watched a sweet clip on CBS news the other day that I wanted to share. It’s all about veterans that have been injured in war and have risen to do great things despite their circumstances.

Todd Love Military

The main person CBS interviewed was Todd Love who is a triple amputee. As a U.S. Recon Marine in Afghanistan two years ago, he lost both legs and his left forearm to a landmine.

The first interview with Todd Love from 2012.

For Americas wounded warriors leaving the hospital is a start to a long recovery but the journey is shorter with a visit to some healing waters.

On the Potomac River just outside Washington DC. Two Kayakers were in search for the adrenaline rush that comes from surfing a white water wave. You might not have guessed but 21-year-old Todd Love in the front seat is a triple amputee.

Todd Love Kayaking

Love a US Marine lost both legs and 1 arm just over a year ago when he stepped on an explosive device in Afghanistan. His Father carried him to the river and an instructor placed him in the kayak. He attached a prosthetic arm and when he entered the water he was transformed.

Todd Love Kayaking

“When I’m in the kayak it definitely makes me feel free. There’s just something about being in the water. It’s good Therapy”.

The organization that provides this opportunity is called Team River Runner. Instructors are all volunteers. Team River runner started small about 7 years ago with just a few kayakers out here on the Potomac River.

But in recent years with so many injured veterans’ coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan it’s grown quickly. There are now 2 chapters in more than 2 dozen states. Many of the instructors are also injured veterans’ including Jared Balhice.

“TeamRiver Runner is what gave me my life back. It gave me a purpose again.”

Balhice returned from Afghanistan in 2009 with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury after a 500 pound bomb blew up next to his armored vehicle.

“ I couldn’t go to restaurants with friends. I couldn’t go out. I was more or less confined to my own little world. I couldn’t get out of it.”

A Chance to help his fellow veterans’ changed everything.

“When I’m with the other Veterans, when I’m teaching. I’m alive. There’s nothing better in the world then to take someone who thinks they’ve had everything stripped from them. That their never going to lead a functional life again and to teach them a whole new skill”.

Joe Mornini a high school teacher who founded team river runner said nothing gives him more joy then watching people like Todd Love rediscover their confidence.

You can’t even tell he’s disabled when he’s out there in the water.

“Isn’t that Awesome Joe said. Isn’t that what it’s all about. The whole thing is their not disabled their enabled.”

Love said his Success at Kayaking has him looking for new challenges.

“I want to go skydiving which shouldn’t be a problem to do that”.

Shouldn’t be a problem for US Marine veteran with an unquenchable thirst for adventure.

The second interview with Todd Love I saw a couple days ago.

 

Todd Love said that Kayaking didn’t completely satisfy his need for adventure.

Since then he’s gone Skydiving. He’s done 4 tandem jumps and hopes to eventually dive solo.

Todd Love Skydiving

Todd Love then got to appear on Animal Planet with the “Gator Boys” and Wrestle an Alligator

Todd Love wrestling Gator

“The whole time, I was kind of thinking, ‘I hope this gator doesn’t get tired of me being on top of him, ’cause I’m bite-sized,” Love said.

Love also went Scuba Diving and became a fully certified.

Todd Love Scuba Diving

“I feel like I can do anything I put my mind to,” he said. “And for me, that’s way more than having two legs. It’s priceless.”

Todd Love put his mind to Surfing and was doing handstands within minutes.

Todd Love Surfing

And he can’t get enough of the Demolition Derby — in a car he controls by hand. Todd Love said that was the most intense of all his activities.

Todd Love Demolition Derby

“I would say the adrenaline rush was probably the most significant,” he said. “It’s up there with combat.”

His next adventure: going to College. It makes him more nervous, he said, than jumping out of a plane, but he’s determined to succeed.

Todd Love Photo

“I don’t have a reason to feel sorry for myself,” he said.

“A lot of times, people will come up to me and thank me for my service, and I see the tears in their eyes and there’s not much that I can say.

In my mind, I’m thinking I wish these people knew — I wish they knew what I was thinking, how much I love my life.”

Todd Love said he’ll still be doing “something crazy” when he’s 90 years old.

God bless our Veterans!

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