After losing his leg fighting in Vietnam, Kirk Bauer thought he would never be able to engage in sports again, a thought that demoralized him because sports had always given him a sense of purpose and identity. That all changed on December 31, 1969 when an organization of vets that eventually became Disabled Sports USA took him skiing. By the fourth day he was racing down intermediate slopes and thrill of the speed after a slo-mo world of crutches and prosthetics was liberating. Kirk Bauer had found a purpose and for the past 31 years, he has been the Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA. These days the organization is helping its younger members – veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan – to participate in more extreme sports such as sled hockey, water skiing and mountain climbing. Bauer has embraced the extra challenge: in his early ‘60s, Bauer and a double amputee succeeded in climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Photo Credit: Leigh Vogel/NHLI via Getty Images