Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Branch of Service: Army
Status: Medically Retired
Injury Date: 2006
Injury: Below the Knee Amputation
“Why not ride my bike across the country? What a cool adventure” – Chad Jukes
Chad Jukes likes a challenge – whether serving in Iraq, rock climbing or riding in the 2010 Sea to Shining Sea – there isn’t any mountain he isn’t prepared to climb.
In December 2006, Chad was commanding a convoy in Northern Iraq, riding in front in a light medium tactical vehicle. Suddenly, there was a loud boom and flash of light when his truck hit and anti-tank mine. He recalls, “I had this calm realization, ‘This is it. I’m along for the ride.’ The next thing I knew, I was hanging outside the truck.” In an instant, his right femur was broken and his heel shattered.
Quickly, Chad was flown back to his base at Camp Speicher, where surgeons attached an external fixator consisting of four pins and an external rod to his mangled leg. Soon he was moved to Germany and eventually the William Beaumont Army Medical Center, in El Paso, Texas.
Over the next few months, he would undergo four surgeries to repair his leg. But when MRSA, a resistant staph infection, set in, Chad had to decide between yet another operation with a cadaver bone or amputation below the knee. He says, “I was very opposed at first, however after talking to some amputee climbers I realized I was making the decision between being an amputee or a cripple. I promptly chose to get rid of my foot.”
An active climber before joining the Army, only six weeks after the amputation, and one day after receiving his first prosthesis, Chad went climbing in a rock gym. It was a struggle at first, requiring a lot of hard work and learning about how deal with his new reality. Chad now feels, “I am mentally stronger now than I was before. The experience has strengthened my resolve to get out and climb.”
That resolve has led Chad to the summit of Mount Rainier (14,411 feet), up Bridal Veil Falls, a 365-foot ice climb with blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer, and to the Moose’s Tooth in Alaska with Chad Stone. He is an active volunteer with Paradox Sports, an organization that helps disabled athletes experience the outdoors. He says, “It’s a great group, and I’m looking forward to continued involvement so I can help other people with disabilities experience the same thing. Getting into the outdoors is a great confidence builder for anyone with a disability. It helps to restore self confidence, pride, and independence.”
Chad loves everything about adventure and viewed the 2010 Sea to Shining Sea Ride as the natural next step. Chad was particularly excited about seeing the western U.S. from a bike, especially Lake Tahoe and the Rocky Mountains. Chad’s family and friends joined him along the way. They cheered him on as he rode through Napa Valley, Sacramento, Carson City and Lake Tahoe.
With the completion of the Sea to Shining Sea Ride, Chad next participated in World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Soldiers to the Summit Expedition to Nepal, in October 2010. This expedition successfully reached the summit of Lobuche at 20,075 feet.
Chad also has participated in the Face of America ride from World T.E.A.M. Sports.