This week we’re talking with OM team member, Dan Rose. Dan is a legend around the OM offices and the poster boy for living On the Move. He was injured during a tour of duty in Afghanistan, but has not allowed the loss of the use of his legs slow him one bit. Read about Dan’s journey and his plans for the future, including mastering adaptive longboarding.
Introduce yourself / Where are you from?
I’m Dan Rose, 28, US Army OEF 2010-2011 Retired Disabled Vet. I now live in Madison, WI. GO BUCKY!!!
Brag on yourself a bit. What are some of the recent events you’ve competed at?
I’ve always been a thrill seeker, and I’m glad to say my injury hasn’t changed that! To date, my biggest accomplishment has to be completing the Chicago Marathon earlier this month. I was amazed that I was able to finish in 3:07:20 considering I didn’t train for the race at all. Needless to say my time will definitely improve because I’ve already started training for my next race.
Other than that I try and stay as active as possible in as many adaptive sports as I can. In the summer I enjoy waterskiing and wake boarding on Lake Wisconsin, cross country mountain biking, hand cycling, pushing in my racing chair, and just getting out and pushing around the community. I was able to go out to Colorado this summer to Crested Butte and tried downhill mountain biking for the first time. I took the chairlift to the top of the ski hill and came bombing down in a crazy four-wheeled mountain bike. Needless to say, I am hooked and can’t wait to get out there and do it again!
In the fall and winter months I change gears and start playing sled hockey and wheelchair football. Both of which are tailor-made for me because I love being able to smash into other players and get banged up in the process. As soon as the ski hills open you can most likely find me out on the slopes on my mono ski. It’s hard to explain the feeling of flying down a hill in a mono ski; it is almost a zen like focus that comes over me, where the only thing that exists is the moment that I am in and section of the run in front of me. Everything else just fades away, except for me, my ski, and the hill.
Talk a little bit about your background as a Soldier and how that factors into your daily life.
I joined the Army Reserves right after I turned 18 to get my tuition for college paid for. I started out in a railroad battalion building railroad tracks for my first 6 year enlistment. I graduated college and enjoyed my time in the Army, but I needed a little more excitement in my life so I reenlisted and changed over to a Combat Engineer.
I heard about the chance to deploy to Afghanistan with another unit out of Wisconsin so I jumped at the chance. Our mission in country was conducting route clearance. In a nutshell, we drove around looking for roadside bombs. The job was pretty boring for the most part, but it was also very crucial. Everyday we rolled out on mission we were play a high stakes game and lives were on the line. I was always in the point vehicle on mission either driving, commanding the vehicle, or gunning. We rotated positions in the truck to break up the monotony and to ensure everyone in the vehicle knew every job. I made it almost all the way through the deployment before I was injured.
We were driving down a new route that had been built prior to the rainy season. When the rains hit we weren’t able to drive down the routes that weren’t paved because our trucks would get stuck in the mud, so the route hadn’t been cleared for 3 months by the time we were finally able to go down it again. This meant that Johhny Q. Bad-guy had plenty of time to place the IED that hit my vehicle.
I don’t remember much after the blast, but from the photos and stories I heard about that day I know I am lucky to be alive.
When EOD did their post blast analysis on the explosion they said that the bomb was just under a thousand pounds. It tore my truck into two pieces and sent the entire truck airborne. the crew compartment and engine sections separated and ended up facing opposite directions. The crater it left was probably 6-7 feet deep by about 20 feet long and 30 feet wide. I ended up being the worst injured in the vehicle, my driver and gunner that day have healed up and other than soreness and daily pain are able to go about regular lives; as bad as that day was, it couldn’t have gone any better.
What is it that keeps you on the move daily and motivated to be the best?
The fact that I am still alive. I refuse to let my injuries define who I am, so I push myself everyday to prove to myself that there are no limits to what I can do.
What is your proudest accomplishment so far in either athletics or life?
To date it would be finishing the Chicago Marathon.
Breakdown your typical daily routine for us. Feel free to talk specifically about any workout or training:
I wake up around 6:30-7:00am and roll out of bed and usually start the day with a cup of coffee and a light breakfast. Then I will get ready for the day, get showered, get dressed, and make myself look presentable. I’ve started tutoring elementary kids once a week, so on those days I have to be out the door pretty early so I can beat the traffic to school. If I’m not tutoring, I will go run whatever errands that I need to run. In the afternoons I will either go lift weights or read a book depending on how sore I am from the day before. In the evenings I usually spend time with friends, cooking dinner, watching TV or a movie then I go to bed and restart the process all over again.
What’s next for Dan Rose? What are your future goals that keep you on the move?
I just got message from (Oscar Mike Team Member) Tim Vixay earlier this week with a youtube link of a guy in Germany that rides a longboard in his wheelchair. The next day I wrote the guy a message asking how he adapted his board and after he got back to me explaining it I went out and bought one and set it up. I haven’t been able to master popping onto the board yet, but I’m hoping to get the hang of it soon and start bombing around on the thing!
Stay tuned! (Edit, we will!)
You’re known around the OM offices for pretty much being up for doing anything that comes your way. What’s the craziest adaptive event you’ve done?
The longboard project is a bit ambitious, but the craziest thing I’ve done so far has to be the downhill mountain biking. It is insane flying down a hill, blasting through turns and over table tops!
What’s your favorite piece of Oscar Mike gear?
Hands down my PUSH t-shirt that we made for the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in 2012.
What has been your most difficult challenge to overcome thus far?
Regaining my confidence after my injury.
It was like someone pressed the reset button on my life after my SCI and changed the rules on me. It took me a while to get my head back on straight and to truly believe in myself again.
It was a humbling experience to look back on and I owe a lot of gratitude to my family, friends, doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and especially my recreation therapists for believing in me even when I didn’t.
Where can people expect to see you next? What’s your next event?
I will be pushing my race chair in a 5k race in southern Wisconsin on November 23rd.
Any final words of wisdom or inspiration for our readers?
There will always be a million obstacles in-between where you are in life and where you want to be.
Regardless if you are in a wheelchair, need prosthetics, or able-bodied, the trick is to always pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and use your failures to motivate you to try harder. Your greatest ally can also be your worst enemy: your will to succeed.
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