Operation Rebound

Brandon Holiday: A Warrior Mindset to Overcome Against All Odds
By Michael D. Boll

Brandon Holiday attended University of Maryland Eastern Shore where he played on the tennis team, was enrolled in the ROTC program, and competed for two years in the Ranger Challenges. Only the best compete in the Ranger challenge, an event where the military compete against others schools in a series of challenges. He transferred to Duke University and while attending there became severely sick and was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. Not long after being diagnosed with Lupus, he had his first heart attack. Due to these medical complications, he was unable to continue his goal of serving as an officer in the Army, so he pursued a career in law enforcement. While an officer, he was injured in the line of duty and further medical complications from Systemic Lupus prevented him from continuing to serve as a police officer. 

In 2006, Brandon lost his leg below the knee, which was caused by a blood clot and an infection associated with Systemic Lupus. After the loss of his leg he went through stages of depression and coping with the loss, and dealing with his chronic disease that caused fatigue, pain and other severe symptoms, like blood clots. It was difficult at the time because there was a lack of a regional support network. After attending the Extremity Games, which is an extreme sporting event for participants who have suffered amputation and spinal cord injury, he was able to meet other athletes that were active and competitive in sports. The games provided him with new motivation to train and use sports as a catalyst for healing. 

Since attending the games, he has been partnered with his service dog Dyson, who he travels with during competitions. Brandon has competed at the U.S. National Sprint Canoe Kayak Championships, and is the 2014 and 2015, 200 and 500 meter, and master class 35+ National Champion. In 2016, he made the USA National Paracanoe team, and competed at the ICF Canoe Kayak World Championships to qualify Rio Paralympics. Now, he speaks to groups about overcoming adversity, and empowers patients to educate themselves in the face of illness and disease. 

Currently, Brandon is an Expert Patient Advocate, and the Executive Director of Athletes with Disabilities Network Northeast (www.adnnec.org). He has organized a network of peer mentors to assist area healthcare providers with mentoring and outreach. Mentors assist patients and their families with transitioning after facing a devastating disabling event. In 2017, he was also elected into the United States Olympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council as the alternate. He helps in promoting the Olympic and Paralympic movement, and creates events which provide opportunities for disabled community members and their families to have interactions in social settings with other disabled members, their families and mentors. This allows the newly injured person to see that a better quality of life is possible, expands preconceived notions of disability, and focuses on the abilities of what a person can achieve.

Come meet Brandon on May 13th, 2017 at the Cooper River Park Pennsauken, NJ, where athletes with Disabilities Network 5k-1 mile fun run walk will be held. This supports programs and a portion of the proceeds goes toward injured police officer Josh Vadell from Atlantic City Police Department. Go to www.Runsignup.com and search for Athletes with Disabilities Network.