Had he served in another, earlier conflict, U.S. Army Sgt. Bryan Anderson might not have survived the injuries he sustained on Oct. 23, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq. But thanks to modern medicine, the Improvised Explosive Device that destroyed Bryan's Humvee did not end his life. It did, however, cause life-changing injuries, resulting in the amputation of both of his legs and his left arm below the elbow.
As someone who had always lived life on his own terms, with an eye out for having fun above all else, Bryan, a suburban Chicago native, charged into his rehabilitation process, determined to resume his fun-loving ways. Prosthetics play a major role in that process, but often, when prosthetic limbs are impractical or impossible, Bryan relies on his Quantum 6000 Power Chair to keep him in the thick of things.
Before his injuries, Bryan's friends and family knew him as someone who was quick to laugh and make others laugh, and willing to try just about anything if it looked like it might be a good time. Since his return from Iraq, and subsequent rehabilitation stay at Walter Reed, Bryan has enjoyed rock climbing and jet skiing, with his famous sense of humor perfectly intact. He has aspirations of becoming a movie stuntman in Hollywood, using his physical condition as an asset, rather than a liability. For someone like Bryan, a power wheelchair has to meet very demanding expectations, and Bryan says his Q6000 is up to the daunting task.
"I love the chair, it's been great for me," said Bryan, who demands a lot of his power chair, and doesn't want to have to spend a lot of time worrying about it. On that note, the Q6000 delivers. "I don't really have to give a lot of thought to what it can do or where it can go," Bryan said. "I just go."
In November, 2006, Bryan returned to his Rolling Meadows, IL home to a hero's welcome, greeted by cheering crowds of friends, family, and people who had never met Bryan but had heard of him and wanted to thank him for his service and sacrifice. It's small wonder that Bryan's neighbors knew his story by the time he returned home, with numerous accounts of his story appearing in his hometown papers the Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Tribune. As word spread nationally other publications picked up the story, including a July 2006 article in the Los Angeles Times. Since then, Bryan's celebrity status has ramped up further and in January of 2007 he appeared on the cover of Esquire magazine, along with a feature story inside the magazine entitled, "What I've Learned."
Bryan seems unaffected by all the attention and focused on maximizing his abilities. "I'm always looking forward. I want to get out and accomplish things and make a name for myself that way," he said, adding that he has no regrets about the path his life has taken. "There's really no point in regretting things. I'm just making the most of life, and hopefully learning from my mistakes, but not regretting anything."