UPDATED: 6:45 p.m. May 2 It's not the disability, it's the ability
That was the message of Retired Sgt. First Class Dana Bowman who skydived in Quincy late Monday afternoon for the first ever Amputee Awareness Day.
Bowman lost both of his legs in a midair skydiving collision in 1994.
Now he has two prosthetic legs, continues to skydive and works as a motivational speaker.
Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics sponsored him to come to Quincy for the first time since before his accident in 1992.
Bowman jumped from a plane 6000 feet in the air, carrying an American flag on very fitting-day.
He landed at Cedar and Bonansinga Drive.
Bowman said, "I didn't lose the chance to live. If we can jump from a plane after losing it all, imagine what you can do and what we can do together."Bowman retired from the United States Army in 1996.
On Monday, Sergeant First Class (R) Dana Bowman former Special Forces Soldier, Ranger and Golden Knight will be blazing across the skies of Quincy, Ill. under the red, white and blue USO Canopy for the first ever Amputee Awareness Day, which will be held at the corner of Bonasinga and Cedar at the Comprehensive Prosthetics & Orthotics building.
Dana visited Chaddock, Quincy Junior High School and Quincy Notre Dame High School last year and showed them video segments of himself scuba diving, water skiing, bike riding and a Nike commercial that features Bowman participating in various activities, including landing on his prosthetic legs after a skydive. The commercial's tagline, of course, is "Just Do It!" Well that is just how Bowman lives his life, and he encourages the people -- to take advantage of life's opportunities.
"Some of you have been through some of these little tragedies. We have to overcome that," he said. "Over and over we get these chances in life. We need to grasp what's there. We only have one life; we need to make the best of it."
Bowman lost his legs in an accident during annual training in Yuma, Arizona, in 1994. Dana is the 1st double amputee to ever reenlist into the U.S. Army. In 1996, he retired from the U.S. Army, attended the University Of North Dakota and received a Bachelor of Science degree in commercial aviation in 2000.
This event has been organized to give other amputees and their families the chance to see the limitless opportunities that are out there for them and to remember Dana's motto,"Never Quit, It's not the disability, and It's the ability!"
Don Goertzen is the President of Comprehensive Prosthetics & Orthotics which has numerous clinics in Illinois to assist amputees. This company has caring professionals who restore confidence, mobility and give new beginnings to their patients. Goertzen is an amputee himself and said, "That being an amputee was what encouraged him to go into the field over thirty-seven years ago."
He first saw Dana jump into an elementary school in 1998 that had read over 10,000 books in Wilmington. He said, "I am always inspired by his dives and the message he delivers to amputees, it was totally inspiring seeing Dana jump and I was amazed at the courageous story he told the students that day." Don and Dana have since bonded and become good friends.
Comprehensive Prosthetics & Orthotics is headquartered in Peoria and has seven office locations in Illinois, including Quincy's office at 926 Broadway, Suite 3. The CPO team also offers clinics at other sites throughout the state. The professionals at CPO restore mobility and quality of life to their patients through the use of orthoses and prostheses for both upper and lower extremities, as well as spinal orthoses.
Dana credits his active life style full of skydiving, scuba diving and continually running after 5 kids to the magnificent prosthetics and care he has received from Don Goertzen and his professional lab.
Dana is a member of the first and only one of a kind team, The Rangers Group Veterans Parachute Team founded by Mark "Ranger" Jones, which offers the astounding diversity to challenge, motivate, unite and inspire individuals, students and companies to over come any challenge life has to offer.
"Ranger "Jones, SFC (R) Dana Bowman and the Golden Knight's, Tandem Team Leader, SFC Michael Elliott, Team Bowman 3D,have consolidated their joint efforts assuring the lives of others will be more prosperous by bringing together a team of professional veteran parachutists and formed a dynamic trio.
The Rangers Group Veteran Parachute Team is determined to give back to all the Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Navy who the have served their country. Dana said, "My goal is to give back so we have partnered with the Veterans Initiative from American Airlines who give constant support to make such a significant contribution to help service members and their families, programs for our veterans and US Troops through the Medal of Honor Flights, Liberty Flights, Race for Heroes and multiple venues yearly. We have also joined forces with the American 091 Huey Foundation which continually support seriously injured and disabled service members form the War on Global Terrorism with educational sources the IBOT mobility system, which is a battery powered indoor/outdoor stair climbing wheelchair designed by Dean Kamen."
For more information about Dana Bowman, or The Ranger Group Veteran Parachute Team please visit The Ranger Group at 817-597-1826, or see what the American dream looks like up close and personal, by visiting www.danabowman.com or www.rangergroup.com.