Adaptive demo day gets amputees back on the water

by Nicole Brodzik
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About four years ago, Adam Warden was preparing to run a 100-mile trail race. Then, before he got a chance to compete, a freak accident happened and a tree fell on Warden, breaking his back, ribs and severing his left foot.

Last week, the Mound native and current Maple Plain resident got up on a wakesurf board for the first time during the Minnesota Wakesurf Championship’s Adaptive Demo Day.

He was one of nearly a dozen participants who got to suit up in water proof, fitness focused prosthetics from designer Ottobock and try out wake surfing on Lake Minnetonka.

Warden was first up for the day and was able to get up on his board on the first try. He wore a smile the entire time.

“It was unbelievable,” Warden said. “I used to wake board a little in high school but that was 15-20 years ago and used to ski and snowboard, but nothing since I’ve had my robot parts and it was absolutely a blast.”

Warden went through a number of surgeries over three years to try and save his foot, but about a year ago he realized things weren’t going to turn out and had a below the knee amputation. Despite all that, he’s got a positive attitude and maintains his passion for being active.

“After my original injury I was bed ridden for three months, I had plenty of time to throw myself a pity party then, but after that I realized that really the only thing I have any control over is how I deal with it,” Warden said. “If I was going to start to gauge my success on what I was doing before, I was going to be horribly disappointed.”

Event organizer Mark Mann is a double amputee and an avid wake surfer himself. He’s also on the board of the group Wiggle Your Toes that advocates for the amputees like Warden. The pair of Minnesota natives are out to prove that injuries don’t define a person and that the only limitations are in a person’s mind.

“You just have to get out and start trying it again and you have to make a little bit of modifications to some of the stuff you do, but really there’s not a lot that you can’t still do,” Warden said.