“I love my Fairing because it’s a conversation piece. When I go out, people will tend to ask me about my leg. I am a representative for people with disabilities.”
At age 33 Chad, an avid athlete in the prime of his life, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma on the bottom of his right foot. Faced with the choice of either losing a large section of his foot, having a limp and the chance of cancer still being in his limb, or losing his leg mid-shin and being fitted with a prosthetic leg, he made the difficult decision to amputate. He figured that a prosthesis would allow him more normality in his athletic and daily life. Seven years later, Chad now epitomizes the same resilience, optimism and strong human spirit he had prior to the amputation. From elementary school teacher pre-cancer, to CBS TV show “Survivor” star and motivational speaker, as an amputee, Chad has created a new career and life path for himself.
After the amputation, Chad returned to his job as an elementary school teacher while continuing to pursue his athletic interests of soccer, off-road triathlons (XTERRAS), mountain biking and snowboarding. He even completed a sprint-level triathlon six months after surgery.
Always a big fan of the TV show ‘Survivor’, Chad realized that he now had an opportunity to achieve new goals while also educating the general public that someone with an amputation can still live a very normal life. So in 2005, one year after his surgery, Chad applied to be on Season 9 of Survivor in Vanuatu. He made the cut and went all the way to the final weeks of the competition before being voted off and joining the jury. Chad wondered if the other contestants would see him as an able bodied person, or accept him for what he can do based on his disability. Mark Burnett, the show’s producer wanted to see how people would react to him and how other contestants would treat him on the show. The answer came in the huge ratings that the show received and the instant fame that Chad achieved.
With “Survivor” under his belt, Chad believed he had achieved the first step of his goal to educate the public on the fact that amputees can perform at the same or higher level than non-amputees. Having also proven to himself that he was a true survivor, Chad embarked on his next adventure: becoming a motivational speaker and hard core athlete. Chad began racing for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which played an important role in his development as an amputee athlete. Chad also started BMX biking and wake boarding, and racing for Adaptive Action Sports, a non-profit organization started by Amy Purdy and designed to get young kids engaged in extreme sports like skateboarding. Chad won a gold medal in slope style and a bronze in the half-pipe in the Challenged Athletes category. He is currently sponsored by Freedom Innovations.
Chad wears his Bespoke Innovations Fairing almost every day and has had a very positive experience. “I love my Fairing because it’s a conversation piece. When I go out, people will tend to ask me about my leg,” said Chad. “There are also endless options for what you can do with the Fairings. What I didn’t expect are the practical uses for it. Like, when I wear pants, they hang perfectly. Without the Fairing they hung awkwardly. Now, people might not know I have a prosthetic leg. Also, when I wear my snowboard boots I don’t have to stuff them with foam anymore. I like leather in general and the look of the Fairing, and on a practical level it goes with the stuff that I wear.” Chad also has a special Sport Fairing for playing soccer, which is designed to mimic his other leg with a built-in shin guard.
Chad currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two small children.