MANCHESTER, N.H. — A retired Navy SEAL is beginning life with a prosthetic leg made in New Hampshire thanks to a connection he made in the Granite State years ago.
Rick Kaiser served on SEAL Team 2 and SEAL Team 6 for 34 years and earned a Silver Star for his valor in the Battle of Mogadishu. The retired master chief now runs the Navy SEAL Museum in Florida.
But he was recently in New Hampshire being fitted for a new prosthetic leg at Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics. More than two years ago, Kaiser seriously injured himself in a skydiving accident.
“I was coming in too hot, and I literally ripped the foot off of my leg,” he said.
Kaiser had several surgeries that left him with chronic pain. But a New Hampshire connection he had made through his time spent putting on events and helping veterans, would bring him back to the Granite State.
“The first person I saw who was a Navy SEAL was jumping out of a helicopter,” said Phil Taub, founder of Swim With a Mission.
Taub said he met Kaiser during a Navy SEAL demonstration in Florida. He called it an “a-ha moment.”
“We had been talking about starting our own charity, trying to do something for veterans and trying to do something up at Newfound Lake,” Taub said.
Since that chance meeting, Taub, his wife, Julie, and Kaiser have been putting on Swim With a Mission. The fundraiser connects veterans and their families to valuable resources.
Kaiser didn’t know when he helped start the charity that he would end up benefiting from those same services.
“It changed the trajectory of our life, as a matter of fact, because we were looking at going in a different direction, and we didn’t know it,” said his wife, Barbara Kaiser. “It was scary.”
Rick Kaiser is in line for an advanced prosthesis under development. In order to be a candidate, he became one of only 16 people in the world to undergo a surgery called the Ewing amputation.
“He’ll be able to move his muscles in such a way that when a prosthetic componentry comes out, if he wants to lift his toes, the prosthesis will actually lift its toes,” said Matthew Albuquerque, president of Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics.
The prosthesis is in development at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rick Kaiser said he hopes to one day benefit from it, but until then, he’ll use a prosthetic leg made at Next Step’s on-site lab.
Just five days after trying on his first prosthesis, he, his wife and their dog, Jesse, walked together out of Albuquerque’s office.
“Through this whole amputation procedure and Next Step and Matt and (prosthetist) Jason (Lalla) and everybody that supported me giving me a new leg and a new lease on life, they’re paying me back, so I have to give ten times more than that,” Rick Kaiser said. “So that’s my goal.”
By Cherise Leclerc, News Anchor/Reporter
See original article at WMUR Manchester