Landmark Education graduates in the Team Management Leadership program in Los Angeles watched as thousands of American soldiers returned from Iraq with permanent disabilities and knew they wanted to do something. The way Tom Tapp saw it, these soldiers were defending our freedom, yet to the thousands of those who returned without limbs lost in the conflict, they probably felt anything but free themselves.
While surfing one day in Southern Californian Tom had a chance meeting with a man named Trevor that sparked an incredible project. Trevor was born with no legs below his knees. He asked Tom to carry his board to the ocean, and Tom agreed. He crawled beside Tom on all fours towards the sea as Tom carried both surfboards. They talked on their way out to the surf, and Tom was struck by the complete normalcy of this man. They talked about their jobs, the waves, everything. Tom realized this wasn’t a man who felt sorry for himself or felt somehow robbed by fate. He was just a normal guy who was out having a good time surfing.
Tom became inspired by the desire to have amputee veterans of the Iraq conflict experience the same fun and freedom. If those soldiers fought for our freedom overseas, why shouldn’t they feel free back home? From this, Operation Amped was born. It has taken some hard work to set up, but Tom worked with some friends to raise the money to get the project off the ground, and has also gotten dozens of sponsors ‘on board’, including high profile spot companies like Billabong.
The kickoff event took place on August 10-12, with 20 amputee veterans sharing the waters with surfers from the Operation Amped team, which includes former world champions. The event was such a success that the program is having events in Costa Rica and the east coast coming up in 2008, as well as more events near Los Angeles. For more information check out Operation Amped on the web!