112: Jeffrey Glasbrenner: Motivational Speaker, Athlete, Author, and Father refused to allow becoming an amputee to prevent him from athletic competition and mountain climbing.
On July 30th 1980, when guest Jeffrey Glasbrenner was still only 8-years old, growing up in Boscobel, Wisconsin in the Southwest part of the state, this farm boy that loved helping his dad who he idolized, had his life completely changed forever. While cutting hay, his right leg was cut by the tractor that they were using. Jeffrey explained, “Basically, the best way to describe it was the tractor was like a large pencil sharpener and my leg was the pencil, and so, from that moment, I just remember looking down and I could see just bone sticking out where just moments earlier I had my whole leg.” To say that Jeffrey Glasbrenner is an athlete is an understatement. To say that Jeffrey Glasbrenner overcame incredible odds to emerge victorious in multiple sports is also putting it lightly.
On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Jeffrey Glasbrenner, Motivational Speaker, Athlete, Author, and Father about his experiences going from losing his right leg at age 8 to reentering his passion for sports after a 12-year doctor-advised hiatus at age 20. Imagine crying out loud as a grade school kid on that fateful day that you would never be able to run or swim again, only to eventually run multiple Ironman World Competitions, compete in three Olympics, and climb Mt. Everest. Then imagine a step further as his father, his hero, literally saves his life after his leg was cut by remaining calm enough to apply a human hand tourniquet. Jeff stated that “The doctors, later on, said that if he had not done that right away, I would have bled out and I would have died.”
Jeffrey Glasbrenner not only discusses his athletic achievements, but the tough road ahead of those huge wins, the path many would assume wasn’t possible. Jeff delves into the feelings of guilt and sorrow of a parent coping with and trying to be strong for a child with physical challenges when he shares: “I didn’t really truly understand the magnitude of what he had to go through until I became a parent and so, I’ve got a special needs daughter, so she has a seizure disorder. So, she has up to 100 seizures a day. So, when I’m not there to pick her up when she falls exactly in that moment and she gets a little bruised or something, I feel really poorly about it. ‘I should have been there,’ you know? So, I can only imagine what my dad felt and had to go through all of those years.”
What You Will Learn:
What was it like for Jeffrey during those 12 years between age 8 after his leg loss and getting back in the game of sports at 20-years-old? Doctors handed him a list of what he couldn’t do and told him to play it safe and study hard to succeed. A wooden leg with carbon fiber that took three months to build was given to Jeffrey. But unfortunately, it didn’t fit smoothly because he already outgrew it. Jeff’s sister was a competitive star athlete while he had to do his and her farm choirs.
How in the world did Jeffrey Glasbrenner become a basketball player? At age 20 he hopped towards a public restroom and a kid he didn’t realize was also living through his own amputee experience, invited him to play wheelchair basketball. Hear how this not only led to gaining another mentor, in the form of a coach, but an 18-year international wheelchair basketball career.
Jeff explains his years playing basketball in detail, stating: “I played on the national team for 15 years and I played overseas professionally for three years, two years in Madrid, Spain and one year in Rome, Italy.” This was a very lucrative situation. He had all of his expenses paid for, including a car, an apartment, and the ability to fly home whenever ever he needed to. There was also a healthy paycheck of $6,000 euros a month. He also talks about competing in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the Athens Games in 2004, then Beijing in 2008.
If you are wondering what types of equipment he uses during these competitions, Jeffrey delves into that, also the types that others use as well. He also talks about how when amputation is below the knee there is more power and stability and how mobility is more challenging and expensive above the knee, with the need for a mechanical knee or a robot knee, which Jeff said could be twice as expensive as what Jeff’s is.
If you know anything about how intense the Ironman World Championships is, then Jeffrey Glasbrenner’s story will be even more mesmerizing for you. His dedication to Ironman, which consists of the race being a full marathon of over 26 miles, the swimming competition that involves 2.4 miles, and riding a bike 112 miles is rigorous even with the full use of both legs. Well, Jeff made this dream a reality over and over…23 times.
Hanging Out With “The Rock”:
Jeffrey Glasbrenner discusses the book he wrote called, “The Gift of the Day,” that talks about his experiences prior to Everest and prior to climbing mountains and it talks about his daughter and how every day is a gift. But he also does some additional storytelling of a cinematic nature, when he shares how he not only met superstar actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, but was asked to hang out with him two days on the set of the movie Skyscraper and consult that actor’s performance.
Finding His Summit on Mt. Everest:
Being the hardest worker in the room is the rule of the day, every day for Jeff Glasbrenner as he talks about his experience ascending the treacherous heights of Mt. Everest. Jeff shares, “For me, I don’t have to be an expert at something. But, the second I dive into it, I become an expert. I need to know everything about the prosthetic. I find mentors and I find people that believe in me to get to my summit.” Tune in to hear whatever incredible challenges Jeff is taking on these days and how Jeffrey’s story lives up to his own father’s powerful advice: “You can be pitiful, or you can be powerful”
Links to Additional Resources:
- Jeff Glasbrenner: Instagram
- Laird Superfood – Code: Markp20 [Sponsor]
- Cascade Mountain Tech
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