Celebrating A Colleague, Friend & Hero

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“Taking Opportunities, Defying Disabilities”

Last Saturday was the 3rd Annual T.O.D.D. Field Day an event created to celebrate the late Todd Anderson (1960 – 2010), Ottobock’s former Vice President of Clinical Services. Todd’s positive attitude and active lifestyle has inspired this fun-filled event.

Over 200 people attended the event where everyone had the opportunity  try a variety of sports activities including: Adaptive Archery, Rock Climbing, Golf, Hand Cycling, and Hockey, along with on court demonstrations for sports like wheelchair basketball and rugby. Activities were available with  adaptive equipment and professional staff experienced at assisting individuals who use wheelchairs, braces, and prosthetic devices.

  Leslie giving her keynote speech at T.O.D.D. Field Day.

Leslie giving her keynote speech at T.O.D.D. Field Day.

Leslie Pitt Schneider who was Todd Anderson’s colleague, patient and friend gave the welcome address at Saturday’s event. So we asked her to share her thoughts with the Momentum blog readers as well:

 “It’s not every day we get to honor a hero.  And it’s not every day that we get to publicly honor a person who played a pivotal role in our lives.  Saturday afforded me the opportunity to do just that as I did the keynote speech for the 2013 T.O.D.D. Field Day in Minneapolis, MN where the US Ottobock headquarters is located.

 It was a way to honor a man who let limb loss be an inconsequential aspect of his life. Instead, Todd embraced his own limb loss by recognizing the tremendous value of sharing his own experiences to others, especially in the form of adaptive athletic activities. TODD:  Taking Opportunities, Defying Disabilities

Todd was a man who lived life fully through his many phenomenal traits but especially through his natural athleticism

He was an internationally ranked athlete in adaptive track and field. 

Todd was a nationally renowned wheelchair softball athlete, later having Minnesota’s first competitive wheelchair softball field named after him.   

And he was a life-long lover of hunting, quickly becoming a Grand Master Bowman after he discovered archery later in his life.

The Courage Kenny Rolling Gophers scrimmaging in the morning.
The Courage Kenny Rolling Gophers scrimmaging in the morning.

Todd was a person with limb loss.  While a sophomore in college, at the age of 19, he was in a motorcycle accident that resulted in the amputation of his leg below the knee.  He finished his college education and ultimately became a prosthetist, working at Northwestern Artificial Limb & Brace; then at Shriner’s Hospital for Children; and finally at Ottobock. 

Todd was my colleague. I was in a meeting with Todd, the day before he died, when he reminded the group of why we were there.  That being: to improve the lives of others.  In fact, he called me out and asked me why we do what we do to which I replied “to help people like us, Todd”.  He often said that he was employed by Ottobock BUT that he worked for Amputees. 

That was his message.  That was his mantra.  That was Todd.   

Todd was my prosthetist. I met Todd in 1985 as he was my second prosthetist. 

When I was six years old, I was riding my bike home when I was struck and run over by a dump truck hauling gravel.  My left leg was crushed.  My right leg was fractured.  And I had multiple skull fractures.  I spent the summer in the hospital; undergoing countless surgical revisions; hours of physical therapy-all the while transitioning into my new life with limb loss.   

Now 39 years later, I look back to that day to realize that the only thing I lost that day was my leg.  That’s all I lost.   Instead, I have gained so much.  I have been given the gift to know that life is about using that which could limit us to make our lives limitless.  For me, losing my leg has made my life limitless. 

I would not be here today talking to you if I had not lost my leg.  I would not have been an internationally ranked downhill skier if I had not lost my leg. I would not have had the countless experiences I’ve had, nor met the amazing people I’ve met- had I not lost my leg-including one very special prosthetist:  Todd Anderson.”

What will you do today to Take Opportunities and to Defy Disabilities?

Watch Leslie’s film, ‘Limitless‘.

People of all abilities were able to try different activities, like the rock climbing wall.
People of all abilities were able to try different activities, like the rock climbing wall.

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