Barksdale Air Force Base- Kurt Yaeger and Erin Simmons Nemec, two ESPN XGames athletes jumped into day 2 of the Air Force Global Strike Command ‘Getting Back Up Tour’ with a little extra spring in their steps... all three natural and one artificial feet pointed towards America’s finest.
While Simmons Nemec, the 3x ESPN XGames silver medalist (one of only 3 women who have ever medalled 3 times in her sport of SnowboarderX at the famed Winter XGames) laced up her custom kicks, Yaeger did the same... after attaching his prosthetic left leg first.
Yaeger who dominated the world scene of professional bmx freestyle riding had gone stride for stride with the winter olympian the day before here at Barksdale AFB, he’d listened to her stories, shared his own and was prepared to do the same today, hard for many to think that only 6 years in the rear view mirror had he found himself laying lying in a ditch... cell phone in hand...calling for help.
“ ... I woke up in a ditch... my motorcycle and body completely wrecked... the car that had hit me was long gone, but my cell phone worked and I was able to call 911” recalled Yaeger in front of a group of Airmen here today, “...nearly thirty operations and a year of living horizontally later... I found myself put back together... I found myself alive... all thanks to people in my life.”
The American300 Never Quit Series is showcasing these and other unique individuals this year at Air Force Global Strike Command bases with a simple goal. “We want to help make our Air Force Global Strike Command stronger... teach our Airmen life lessons in an up close and personal manner” says Robi Powers the creator and host of the Never Quit Series through his nonprofit American300. “Death by powerpoint is no joke, when we look at the mission that Air Force Global Strike Command ensures on a daily basis...you have to take into account the endless powerpoint briefings that it’s Airmen deal with in order to keep the mission going, the last thing they need is another powerpoint briefing on the topic of how to self improve... how to be great in their personal and professional lives.”
It doesn’t get more personal then Kurt Yaeger, the 29 year old was on the top of his game when life threw him under the bus.
He’d climbed to the top of his sport, had a acting career in Hollywood that was taking off and all of a sudden he was in a ditch on the side of a road facing death. “If I hadn’t had friends in my life that were willing to drop what they were doing and come to my bedside, I wouldn’t be here today. When I look back on that terrible time I’m humbled; all I wanted to do was end it all. Instead, the outpouring of love and humanity forced me to live another day” says Yaeger, adding “It allowed me to get through the super rough times and put me in a position to reset and Get Back Up and start all over again”.
Getting Back Up was exactly what Yaeger did, but it took a group of engineers, friends and fellow professionals to convince him that going upside down might be the medicine that would truly help him recover. He worked with engineers to design a patented magnetic pedal to prosthetic interface that allowed him to pull the same freestyle tricks that made him famous, add to that a never quit can do attitude and he found himself back on the sets of everything from major motion pictures to tv series.
And he’s not afraid to share his story. “This series is amazing, I didn’t know what to expect, but listening to Kurt and Erin tell their stories and looking at who we have up next on the monthly list of visitors has me so fired up.” says, Major Jason Mcree, a marketing public relations specialist who just came from the Thunderbirds Team. “This is new school resiliency programming that Airmen can relate to; we’re definitely onto something.”
The American300 Never Quit Series continues tomorrow at Whiteman Air Force Base in MO. As the team flys through the night the sound of B52 Bombers will still fill the airwaves in and around Barksdale Air Force Base. The 2nd Bomb Wing and 8th Air Force along with 307th Air Force Reserve (to name a few) Airmen will continue to ‘fly the mission’ and serve our country and the free world.
STORIES - PHOTOS - VIDEOS and SURVEY are available at: www.American300.org
For more on Kurt Yaeger visit his sites:
Air Force Global Strike Command Information can be viewed at: www.afgsc.af.mil
American300 is a 501c3 All Volunteer Nonprofit engaged in promoting overall resiliency and strength in today’s Armed Forces. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended.
Special Note- American300 would like to wish Major Hayley James and her family safe passage as they move in true military fashion onto their next assignment in California. We’d also like to thank the many behind the scenes members of Air Force Global Strike Commands 2nd Bomb Wing who allowed the Getting Back Up Never Quit Series Team to meet so many amazing Americans over the past two days here at Barksdale AFB.