This tour changed everything.
While on patrol, Travis was critically injured by an IED (improvised explosive device), losing portions of both legs and both arms. Along with former Chive Charities recipient Taylor Morris, Travis became one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries.
But survival isn’t where the post-injury journey ends; it’s where it starts.
If you can’t tell from Travis’ pre-injury photos, he looked like he could have handled himself on the NFL field himself, thanks to his dedication to staying fit and active. So it probably comes as no surprise that after his injuries, he had the desire to continue training. He just needed a new way of approaching it. So, when David opened up his personal gym and offered his training expertise, it was an easy yes for Travis.
Clearly, going into the gym and doing what he had always done wasn’t an option any longer, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t have an option. They started working out together, customizing and adapting to the unique challenges posed by Travis’ injuries.
It provided health benefits, of course, but it also gave Travis a semblance of the normalcy he craved.
Through that initial relationship, David developed a passion for helping those with life-altering injuries find adaptive performance training. He realized that while there were many excellent rehabilitation programs available, none existed to bridge the gap between basic function and adapted sport. Adaptive Training Foundation (ATF) was conceived to fill that void.
As the participants and staff will tell you, “there’s a magic that happens walking through the doors.”
Currently, about 70% of the attendees are veterans and 30% are civilians; most have amputations, traumatic brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries. All have a desire to work hard. All have a desire for normalcy. ATF helps provide the outlet.
Here’s the gist.
ATF is committed to a holistic lifestyle change, focusing on mental wellness first and foremost and then on fitness. They call it the RECHARGE and it's an integral part of ATF that’s designed to teach athletes to utilize breath work and mindfulness techniques to overcome physical and mental barriers.
Fitness comes next, and that’s known as REDEFINE.
This flagship program provides adaptive athletes with nine weeks of intensive, individualized training in a group setting with other athletes who might be experiencing similar challenges.
Each athlete has a team of 2-3 trainers who work alongside them to implement their customized program. The sessions are typically two hours in length and happen three times a week. Primarily, they work with the athletes on pain reduction, functional strength development, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, mobility, and of course, building a community of support.
ATF challenges each athlete to strive to accomplish something that is significant to their quality of life - everything from jumping rope, opening their hand, picking up their child, wheeling up a ramp, or walking without pain. It could be a simple goal with life-changing potential.
For one participant, that goal was to run again. He was a former marathon runner who suffered a significant injury, and getting back to what he loved seemed like a far-off ambition. During one training session, the staff put him in a vest on a treadmill (with trainers holding the vest on each side) and helped him take his first steps, then start running. He ran with tears streaming down his face.
That’s part of the magic that happens inside their doors.
Since the day David met Travis, ATF has been committed to providing its services to adaptive athletes 100% free of charge. That’s still true now, and they rely on the generosity of donors and organizations like Chive Charities to help them continue that mission.
Sponsorship of athletes through the REDEFINE program costs around $10,000 per person, including 9 weeks of intensive training, access to on-site physical therapists, mindfulness and meditation training, three meals each week, and transportation and housing throughout the duration of the program.
Then, once the 9-week REDEFINE program is completed, all athletes participate in a trip (known as REDEPLOY) were those newfound abilities are put to the test in recreational sports like adaptive skiing, snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, water sports, rock climbing, and more.
It’s a significant investment - but it’s also a significant impact.
Chive Charities and our amazing donors are funding the full 9-week REDEFINE program for an incredible first responder named Heidi. Growing up in and out of the foster case system, Heidi found consistency and peace through running. Since then, fitness has defined her entire life. She’s an avid swimmer, black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and ultra marathon runner. On top of that, she worked as a professional firefighter for 14 years and flight paramedic for 18 years.
Heidi is married with three sons and has fostered many other children. On June 17, 2020, while showing her foster son how to do a backflip, Heidi fell to the ground and landed on her head. This led to bruising and cervical lesions, causing her to be paralyzed from the neck down.
Now more than ever, Heidi’s inner athlete is being tested. Her drive to improve and regain functionality is unmatched. Heidi wants to fully utilize her time at ATF and see how she’ll continue to push her body beyond what is possible. In her own words, “They just want you to quit - and I don’t want to quit.”
None of us want to think about what could happen if we suffered from a catastrophic injury; how our lives would be forever changed. But for those athletes who have experienced amputations or TBI’s or spinal cord injuries, getting back to what they love - in whatever form that takes - means everything.
It’s about defying the impossible, beating the odds to feel your feet pounding the treadmill for the first time in years. Running with tears streaming down your face.
Chive Charities has a lot in common with ATF. We’re both committed to serving veterans and first responders. We’re both dedicated to providing resources to change lives. And we’re both privy to the magic that happens inside our doors.
That’s only possible because of a community of supporters who stand beside us to serve the underserved. This time, it was $10,000 to send Heidi to an ATF training program that has life-altering potential.
Your donations and monthly contributions - whether it’s $5, $50, or $500 - continually benefit rare medical, veteran, and first responder recipients when they need it most. We share their stories every week...and your contributions change their lives. How’s that for magical? DONATE HERE.
If you or someone you know is a veteran or first responder who could benefit from a life-changing Chive Charities grant, please visit ChiveCharities.org/outreach/veterans or ChiveCharities.org/outreach/first-responders to learn more and apply.