Bryan Anderson is not ordinary, he’s extraordinary. I had the chance to meet him when he first came home from the Army and through the years has become my friend. Here’s a guy that I am amazed by everytime I talk to him and who’s come a long way from Rolling Meadows, IL.
Bryan worked as a grounds crew chief at O’Hare Airport for American Airlines following high school graduation. Wanting more out of life he enlisted in the Army in April 2001 and was sent to basic training on September 11, 2001. He says he was proud to be in the Army on that dreadful day. He was sent to Kuwait and then served two tours of duty in Iraq.
One day in October 2005, Bryan was driving to his first Iraqi police station when he was injured by an IED bomb. Bryan calls that “the day I was blown up”. He remembers laughing with his friend in the passenger seat while he was driving the truck. Bryan reached up to light a cigarette and at that very moment the bomb went off. Spinning in his chair Bryan opened his eye to darkness and was worried about his friends. They quickly pulled him out of the truck and started tending to his wounds. He immediate saw his finger tip on the right hand was damaged but had not yet discovered the rest of his injuries. That explosion resulted in the loss of both legs and his left hand. Bryan went to rehab for 13 months at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington DC. He is one of the few triple amputees to have survived his injuries in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart. One of my favorite stories that Bryan tells is about the “Milkshake man” who was famous for bringing wounded soldiers’ milkshakes. One day he was being honored for bringing his 1,000th milkshake and instead of attending the ceremony Bryan thought he deserved a milkshake of his own. So Bryan hopped on his new wheelchair and flew out of the hospital, down the street and through the drive thru. He told the drive thru attendant, “I got no legs so I am going to order here” they obliged and Bryan hurried back to the hospital and busted in on the ceremony to give the Milkshake man his own treat. Of course the crowd went wild and Bryan is now infamous for that stunt at Walter Reed.
When Bryan came back to Chicago his story received extensive media coverage. He was featured in Esquire Magazine with a cover shot in January 2007, he’s been in every major newspaper from the Chicago Sun Times to the LA Times and NY Times. He appeared in the HBO Documentary, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, and in a CSI:NY episode titled, DOA for a DAY. He appeared in the film, The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, and has appeared on the daytime drama, ‘All My Children.’ And Bryan has a Captain America comic book written about his story.
Bryan travels the global as the National Spokesman for Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride Mobility and makes numerous personal appearances delivering his message of perseverance and determination. Bryan is also the spokesman for USA Cares, a non-profit organization that focuses on assisting post 911 veterans. Today, Bryan is hosting a new TV show called “Reporting for Duty with Bryan Anderson” where he features extraordinary people in their communities who exemplify helping others.
Bryan is truly an extraordinary person with a love for life. He knows how to have fun and believes he can have fun everyday doing what he does best, being Bryan. Nothing can stop his energy and enthusiasm and even when I shake my head at his fearlessness I understand challenging his limits is something he enjoys. Bryan snowboards, wakeboards, rock climbs, loves to travel and is a good friend to all he meets.