Monday, May 17, 2010

Bryan Anderson: A Real Life Hero

UPDATE: The winner of the Real Life Hero Contest is traveler!!!! Congrats!!! Please email your physical addy to contests(AT)
**Don’t forget to check out the Real Life Hero Contest! Win up to 15 TKA books featuring real and fictional heroes! Details below.**

In the world of romance writing, heroes can morph into werewolves, glamour unwitting victims with their sparkly skin and battle nefarious dukes in dawn-lit sword fights. But, with the turn of the final page, reality comes calling. Though the castle in the Scottish highlands might not have translated to suburbia and shapeshifters aren’t shopping at the local Wal-mart, there is something both the world of romance and the real world possess – heroes. One of those real life heroes is Iraq War veteran Bryan Anderson, a triple amputee and Purple Heart recipient who is working on adding the title of “author” to his resume.

Bryan’s story begins in his hometown of Rolling Meadows, Ill. As a teenager, he was a gymnast competing at the state level and excelled academically. He went on to work as Ground Crew Chief at O’Hare airport for American Airlines before enlisting in the Army. It was during his second tour of duty in October 2005 that an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) caused a catastrophic injury, severing both his legs and left hand.

After returning from Iraq, the soldier spent 13 months undergoing more than 40 surgeries. As he recovered, his mind was on more than just figuring out how to walk again. “I wanted to figure out what I could and could not do, and in doing that – I figured out there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot that I can’t do,” he says. “I mean, I can still climb trees if I want to.”

True to his word, Bryan can still climb trees along with a whole other host of activities many full-bodied people—as Bryan calls them—find daunting, including; snowboarding, wakeboarding, driving race cars, rock climbing and riding a bicycle 110 miles using hand cranks.

As the national spokesman for Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride Mobility Corp., Bryan travels the country to deliver his message of perseverance and self determination. Last year, Bryan made over 35 appearances at various rehab centers and events. He’s also managed to add a budding acting career to his busy schedule. His credits include the CSI: NY episode, “DOA for a DAY,” and an appearance in the Golden Globe award-winning film, The Wrestler. He was also immortalized in his own Marvel comic book, featured in Esquire Magazine twice, including a cover story, and was one of ten soldiers profiled on the HBO special, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq.

Bryan relishes life, and greets each new day as a gift, and a challenge. He receives emails from people all over the world who have been moved by his story. It’s his desire to continue to inspire people to live to their fullest potential that led him to finally putting his story in printed form. “I hope that the kind of message [I send] is just because something happens doesn’t mean life is over,” he says. “I hope by [giving my all] that people can take something from that and apply it to their own life.”

So, though Bryan doesn’t grow fangs and avoid sunlight at all costs, he does have something important in common with his romance hero counterparts. He makes the impossible possible. He pledged to safeguard his country, and in carrying out that promise survived and thrived through an injury that would have easily devastated many for life. Though we will always love our Alpha heroes and hold fast to our dog-eared Quinns, Showalters, Roberts, Wards and Coles – a real life hero like Bryan shows us how to create magic in our everyday lives.

Message from TKA: We are sponsoring a “Real Life Hero” contest on our blog for the next four days. In the comments, tell us about a real life hero who has inspired you, and we will enter you in a mega-book giveaway, including up to 15 books featuring both real and fictional heroes. The winner will be randomly drawn and announced Friday morning, May 21st.

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Anonymous JoAnna said...

I don't have just one real life hero, but rather, I truly look up to people who shouldn't be able to do something yet prove everything wrong when they do. I'm talking about the person with a heart transplant who runs a marathon, the 80-something grandmother who competes in triathlons and the chronically ill who could live in self pity but instead volunteers to help others. Real life heroes, to me, are those who truly defy society's expectations.

Great question! Thanks for the contest!

(I can be reached here:

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 5:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

My husband is my real life hero.

Several years ago we were both working jobs we hated. He worked at a paper factory that had no air conditioning and no heat. He offered for me to quit my job to stay home and be with the kids and pursue my writing, knowing he'd be pulling double shifts in the stiffling heat and freezing his nether off in the cold.

He finally found a new career he loves, but he still works two jobs to pay our bills so I can stay home.

I've since sold my first novel and it will be out in November, but I hope I make him proud. He's an amazing man, not to mention he's viking hotness. *g*

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 9:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Linda Henderson said...

A few weeks ago in the city where I live a woman was walking in front of her house carrying her small dog when a pit bull came running after her and her dog. She held onto her dog while the pit bull attacked her trying to get to her little dog. Two electric company workers that just happened to be in the area went to her assistance. They pried the dogs mouth open to get her away from it. She had numerous bites on her body but it could have been much worse. These two men helped her without any thought for themselves. They were recognized last week by the police department as being heroes, I think they richly deserve this recognition.

seriousreader at live dot com

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 1:07:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jia Gayles said...

Hey JoAnna, Saranna and Linda! Thanks so much for sharing your stories/ideas.

JoAnna, ITA that there are a lot of people we can look to in our community who have defied the odds. By their example, we can learn a lot about drive and perseverance.

Saranna, your husband sounds like an amazing man!

Linda, it's always good to hear a compelling story like this. Reminds us that we need to watch out for each other!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 8:40:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Stacia Kelly said...

What a wonderful post and idea for a contest!

Real life heroes are truly inspiring. The biggest hero in my life is my mother. She over came the odds of being a single mom, a life threatening illness in my teens, and years of trauma and abuse. Yet, through all that she raised me to be who I am today. I can only hope to pass all the lessons she taught me, on to my son

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 9:50:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Kellye said...

Wow, Bryan Anderson's story is so inspiring! With all the bad news out there, it's so easy to feel down and cynical. But when I read about someone who has faced such horrible circumstances and has come out the other side with such a positive outlook, it really gives me hope for the world. I also enjoyed reading stories from the comment-posters.

I don't have a single hero. I'm certainly inspired by the "big" heroic acts that have been described here, but I'm also amazed by all of the people who go out of their way to do the right thing, especially when it's hard, to offer a smile instead of "the finger," to take responsibility for themselves and work hard for their dreams. Thanks for the post! Kellye

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:03:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Cathy C. Hall said...

When I read about the French gentleman who jumped in the East River after a child fell in, I couldn't help thinking, "Would I risk my life like that? For a stranger?" And yet, every day, men and women serve in the armed forces, or the police or fire departments, risking life and limb for people they don't know.

Sometimes, heroes jump in, in extraordinary circumstances, and sometimes, heroes just go to work everyday.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 10:07:00 AM EDT  
Blogger CrystalGB said...

My real life hero is my husband.
He is very generous and would give the shirt off his back to someone in need. An example of this would be when he saw this man walking every morning on his way to work and offered him a ride. The man's car had quit working and he was walking to work every day. My husband decided to give the man a truck that he was not using so the didn't have to walk to work any more.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 11:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Gossip Cowgirl said...

This post really struck a chord with me. My real life hero is my cousin, Kevin, who decided to go to West Point and serve his country. We have never been a military family, and it was a strange move for him, I felt. But over the years, he has proven just how deeply our patriotism can effect us, and how important it is to give back to the people and organizations we feel have been the most beneficial for us. He is leaving for Iraq in a couple of months, and I am so proud of the decision he made to put his life on the line for other people to have a better life.

On a side note, I thought this quote from one of the other commenters (Cathy) was the best: "Sometimes, heroes jump in, in extraordinary circumstances, and sometimes, heroes just go to work everyday."

So true!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 11:47:00 AM EDT  
Blogger limecello said...

Hmm... real life heroes always lead to a lot of introspection. I find a number of my family inspiring, but I'll go with my cousin this time. It's a great story really. He was an angry kid who essentially ran away and joined the marines to spite his dad/parents. Served, then went to school and got a EE. Decided that engineering wasn't for him, and went to medical school. Now he's married, has four kids with a fifth on the way, and has a fantastic relationship with his parents, and brother. His growing up journey was a little more complicated than usual, but he's done a lot to be proud of.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 11:54:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Dara Young said...

I'd have to say my husband after the last year. He was working a good paying but crappy job. He did it for 6 years while we settled into a house. So, he asked if he could take a break. I said absolutely!

He quit his job, and his idea of a break is to remodel the garage and bathroom, the bathroom inside the house, renovate the back yard, clean the house regularly, do the laundry, cook dinner most nights, and make sure I have lunch everyday and time to write a couple days a week. How can he not be my hero? Sometimes it's the little things that make a hero. :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 11:55:00 AM EDT  
Blogger TJ Bennett said...

My 12 y/o son is my hero these days. He's had a rough go of it since last fall, when he injured himself in PE at school. Despite the enormous amount of pain he was in from a compressed disk impinging on his sciatic nerve, and a series of medical misdiagnoses, and PT several times a week, he managed to maintain his grades in school and keep up his viola practice and schedule. Then, just when things were looking up and he'd began to show improvement, he injured himself again in April, breaking his leg in two places.

Added to the complications of injuring his back previously, this time he wound up in a rehabilitation hospital, struggling to learn how to be independent again and deal with even more pain while also wearing a heavy, full-length cast that did not allow for full range of movement. He has been homebound ever since.

Still, attitude-wise, he's bounced back and kept his usually upbeat disposition, despite moments of pain and despair that would have made an adult lie on the ground and cry, "Why me?" He's learned how to wheel a chair up ramps backward ("Mom, I can do it myself!"), hop a walker through mud while he pursues his able-bodied twin brother around the yard, and do mountains of homework while lying flat on his back. I know kids are resilent, but he's amazing. He gets his cast off tomorrow (we hope) and there will be no stopping him after that, I know!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 1:13:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Joanne Huspek said...

Great post, and I enjoy reading the comments.

I would have to say my real life hero is my dad. He was from a poor family in northern Minnesota, legally blind but joined the military and fought in two wars. He instilled a sense of ethics and hard work in all of us. My mom left him back in the late 70s with young children still at home (my baby sister was 5 at the time, and the other sibs were 13 and 15) but he was retired and stayed at home to take care of them. He's still kicking at almost 80.


jlhuspek at msn dot com

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 1:14:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Robyn Campbell said...

My son Christopher. Born with a rare brain disorder, he relishes life and looks forward to every new day. He accepts that he has challenges, but never lets them get in his way. He has a port-wine-birthmark covering 90% of his body, including his face. He willingly steps out into a crowd to talk about Christ or politics, or whatever is being discussed.

Christopher graduated from high school and amazes all who know him.

Nothing gets him down. He just wants to be treated like everyone else. I am working on a picture book about this amazing young man.

Mark Twain said, "If everybody was satisfied with himself there would be no heroes." My son lives this. He's never satisfied. Always strives to do better.

Wonderful young man Bryan Anderson. Great contest. =)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 3:32:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jia Gayles said...

Thank you to all the new commenters! All great examples of real life heroes! :-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 8:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger WK said...

Oh what a wonderful young man. So very brave and such an inspiration!

As for my real life hero, I have several.
My mom, My cousin James who's in the Air Force and my husband who manages to make all my dreams come true everyday.

Thanks for sharing Bryan's story with us!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 8:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Tambra said...

My son, Brandon. He's former Navy and now in the Army.

He inspires with his dedication to his job-protecting America and to his family.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 11:15:00 PM EDT  
Blogger kmt1976 said...

I worked for many years with special n eeds students. Every day I saw people do the impossible. It's hard not to be inspired by them. I now seen some of them as adults doing things that the text books said they would never be able to do - much like your hero Bryan!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 9:34:00 AM EDT  
Blogger traveler said...

My real life hero is my husband whose life has been one of trials and tribulations combined with his work ethic that has allowed him to achieve goals. He has been working since he was very young, constantly striving to succeed and provide for his family. Many setbacks occurred as well as ten years of serious medical issues which impeded his family life but he continued to work in order to accomplish his goals. He has principles and values which are always at the forefront of his mind which never allow him to falter.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 11:07:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Nancy J. Locke said...

Bryan, you are a blessing to us all!

My hero is anyone who can overcome a disability that has left a challenging road ahead. Facing surgeries, emotions, challenges, people seeing only a disability and not a person, self worth, competition in the working world - all those things can be daunting and a big drain on needed energy to move ahead. It takes an inner strength and faith to conquer all of that.

What is amazing to me is the look of victory and challenge on Bryan's face. His eyes say it all! He has faith in his abilities and has shown all of us that a beautiful world awaits those who go for it and move ahead with conviction that a full life is possible, and all it takes is discovering that the next steps can happen.

I admire you, Bryan! And love you for your dedication for helping others.

Blessings, Nancy J Locke

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 2:01:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Carrie said...

My hero is my Granddaddy. After retiring at 65 he became a baptist minister catering to the poor and homeless. He has gone on multiple mission trips. His most recent was a 2 week trip to Africa.

Last week he went before the city council and presented a plan homeless family housing and was approved by the city.

At 75 he works 7 days a week to improve the lives of those in his community and always puts others about himself.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 2:21:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Lanae T. said...

Wow, is about all I can say. I don't have one particular hero. But reading all these comments, after reading about Bryan, is just amazing. All of these heroes are awesome.

Heroes really do come in many different forms. It's wonderful to see it, no matter how big or small. Reading about our fantasy heroes is one thing, but to be able to walk up and say thank you or reach out and hug a person, makes it so much more meaningful.

Thank you to all of you heroes out there!

ftatman5 at yahoo dot com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 2:34:00 PM EDT  
Blogger LSUReader said...

My Dad was my hero. As a young man, he volunteered for World War II. He and all four of his brothers served and returned home safely. While in North Africa, Dad was awarded the Soldier’s Medal by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. This medal recognizes members of the Army who risk their lives for others during non-combat situations. Dad and several other off-duty soldiers saved a trainload of POWs caught in a burning railroad yard.

When he returned home, he continued to serve, first as a police officer and later as an elected public official. And one more thing—he served as husband to the love of his life, my Mom. When he died a few years ago, he and Mom had been married nearly 60 years.

I think about him often, not just as my Father, but as a man who understood that helping others was a responsibility and a joy. He is my hero. Thanks for letting me share him with you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 3:38:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jia Gayles said...

It's so awesome to hear these great stories from everyone! I think we can all learn from each other. So that's an extra added benefit, besides the contest thing. LOL.

Also, I just wanted to let the people who've posted comments in the last 20 minutes that Blogger is having some trouble and those comments might have been lost. If you don't see your comment please repost. No big deal if they "magically" come through later. Just want to make sure everyone is entered!!! :-) Thanks!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 3:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger orelukjp0 said...

There are so many heroes out there that remain unsung. From the organ/skin donor who's name is not revealed to the leaders of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts and even those who donate to help those who have suffered a tragedy.
My new son-in-law, who is an airman, was driving my daughter and himself cross country for a baby shower I was giving when they happened on an accident. He stopped their car, assisted where he could and tried to save a life. Unfortunately, a young teen died. They left the scene after emergency vehicles arrived, leaving their jackets behind on those who were suffering shock. Most people would not have done as much as he did. He sees enough with his profession and then lives with the nightmare of did I do enough that everyone who has lost someone says.

He is one of just many unknown and unsung heroes that I personally know.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 6:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Heather B. said...

My real life hero was my grandfather. He taught me to drive and how to be a responsible adult. He developed lymphoma the year I was supposed to get married. He promised he would be there to walk me down the aisle and he was. He passed away 3 months later.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 9:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Bella@BeguileThySorrow said...

My real life hero was/is my grandfather. He was a WWII veteran and served his country too, but that's not why he is my personal hero. As a kid he paid attention to me and was there for me when no one else was. He died when I was 13 but his influence still saves me whenever I'm going through a rough spot in life.
bells DOT franco AT gmail DOT com

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 6:15:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

My real-life hero has always been my older sister, Suzanne. She was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 2, and now at 31 she has insulin-resistant diabetes, amongst other health issues. Back when she was first diagnosed, all the doctors told her she couldn't do anything. She shouldn't play sports. She basically shouldn't leave the house. She should basically be treated like an invalid. But she did it all anyway.

She played field hockey in the Fall, basketball in the Winter, softball in the Spring, and went to sports camps for all 3 sports in the Summer.

Suzanne was the first one to do everything, and she passed on her wisdom to her two younger siblings whenever she could. A bright student, she finished college with a Bachelors degree after 7 years of hard work and dedication.

In October 2009, she found out she was pregnant, and was faced with the harsh reality that no part of the next 9 months was going to be a picnic. She had to find a high-risk OB, and a hospital that offers the highest levels of care for both the mother and baby. Doctors have warned her of the serious complications that could occur, and the devastation a pregnancy could have on her and the baby. Faced with offers from family members to be surrogates to avoid putting her body through this agony, Suzanne held her ground and decided to go forth with the pregnancy.

On May 8, 2010, she participated in a 5k walk to benefit the Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Why? Because she wanted to support me, and my struggle after losing my best friend to a drunk driver. Pregnant and waddling, she walked by my side through Baltimore without a single complaint.

Suzanne never stops amazing me, and there is no obstacle she isn't afraid to overcome. For all the "you can't do that" comments she receives, she proves a "yes, I can" everytime. I believe in "Never Give Up", and I though Suzanne may not have invented it, I think she's perfected it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 3:51:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Our world is full of heros but I want to talk about my mother. You see she received a head injury when I was eight years old that left her paralysed on her right side, she went through rehab and came home and raised us. She also had another child after that. Don't get me wrong we all had to help out a lot but she was still able to teach us to cook and learn the many things we needed to know in life. This showed me that a person can overcome anything if you set your mind to it. She passed away at the age of 58 right before my son was born, but I still miss her today!


Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 6:28:00 PM EDT  

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