RUSH foot held a photo competition for 3 of their ‘Rush Rebels’ to win their very own ALLELES prosthetic cover. Well, one of the photos that was selected was this epic photo of Wes Webb.
Once Wes found out he was one of the winners of a pair of ALLELES covers, he contacted us because he wanted something a ‘little different’. Since we are always up for a challenge, we of course said we would try to make his idea come to life. He wanted to create covers that were shaped more like ‘tubes’ to give him more surface area while skydiving. We decided to create detachable wings instead 🙂
See the photos below (courtesy of Lee Keating) of Wes flying with his new covers. He told us about the positive experience he had while using his covers in the sky and how it felt like he could feel his feet in the air and understand where is legs were in relation to his body….giving him more power than before….WILD!
To learn more about Wes and his incredible story (he actually lost his legs in a skydiving accident…indirectly!!!) take a read below! Wes wrote down his story for the work to see. Keep chasing those adventures Wes!
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My name is Wes Webb. I am 34 years old and a bilateral below knee amputee. This is my story, a story of defeat, despair, triumph, and victory.
I grew up in Baytown Texas about 30 miles east of Houston. As a kid I was always looking for adventure. I was the one who would drag his mattress out in the yard while mom was gone so that I could jump off the roof and land on it. I was the one who could always make that bicycle jump that no one else would dare to try, even if it left me with a broken arm. Fear was my friend. The adrenaline achieved by doing dangerous things was something I thrived on. In high school I got into bull riding and broke a femur but recovered fine. I broke my back on the Trinity river kneeboarding at 17 and recovered fine. I thought I was invincible.
Once out of high school I had to grow up so I went to school to be an aircraft mechanic. I have always loved working on things and knowing how they operate. School was a breeze for me and soon I was working on the F-22 Raptor at Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth Texas. This was the highlight of my career. I was working on the best fighter plane in the world, something most could only dream of. A couple of years later I was laid off due to the Air Force cutting down on orders and I moved back home to Houston to work in the Oilfield. I became a mechanic on oil rigs and finally offshore as a Hydraulics and Electronics Technician for subsea equipment.
During this time I was missing something. I had lost that adrenaline seeking mentality that I had once had as a kid. So I went skydiving. My life was changed at an instant! I had finally found what I had been looking for, for so many years. This was the ultimate feeling of adrenaline and excitement that I needed to survive. Skydiving was my life from then on. Every weekend, any chance to skip work, whenever and where ever, I was there! In two and a half years I had racked up 120 skydives.
In the middle of April 2010 I was sent offshore to a rig called the Transocean Deepwater Horizon operated by global oil giant BP. On the way to the rig I was detoured to one of our offshore support vessels where I would stay until they were ready for me on the rig. As I landed on the vessel the sense of urgency was all around. I had no idea that the Deepwater Horizon had just exploded and we were on the way to help put out the fire and look for survivors. This was a humbling feeling because I could have been one of those lost at sea. We stayed at the site for three days until the rig sank and then I was sent home on April 24th.
The minute I landed onshore I headed for the dropzone. I needed my skydiving fix. I was scheduled to go to Singapore the next day and couldn’t miss out on a chance to jump even if it was just once. When we got to the dropzone the winds were very sketchy from the west which meant that we would be landing towards the hanger and all of the other out buildings. I didn’t care. I knew the risks but knew that this might be my only chance to jump for weeks. I grabbed my rig and headed for the plane along with my best friend. The jump was great although we did go a little low and opened at 1800ft which is supposed to be 3000ft. I thought every extra second of freefall was worth the risk. Until, I opened my chute. I had tension knots all in my right brake line causing me to not be able to use my brakes or turn right with my toggle. The mechanic in me tried to fix it, although I should have cut it away immediately! With the lack of altitude going against me I was coming down fast. At 1100ft I knew that I could not fix it and decided to cut away. But before I pulled the cutaway handle I looked down and realized that I was too low and that if I cutaway I could hit the ground before my reserve had time to open meaning instant death. Instead, I decided to use my rear risers which will give you control but makes inputs very slowly. Turning with rear risers and not toggles is like comparing a school bus to a Porsche. Stopping with rear risers is much the same but I had no choice. I knew that I would be going fast as I approached the ground but figured I could run it out even though I had never done this before. As I flew my pattern I came up on final to land. Since I was using my rears to fly my pattern I was not losing as much altitude on each turn as you would using toggles. So when I turned on final I knew that I was going to overshoot the landing and hit the hanger. My parachute was flying around 30mph and hitting the hanger was not what I wanted to do. The only, and worst decision that came to mind was to use my good, left toggle to do a 360° turn to lose altitude. This is the decision that almost killed me. As I came out of the turn I was going about 50mph and was 10ft off the ground. Then I hit! From what people tell me it sounded like an explosion and a rag doll being tossed across the ground. Upon impact I broke my right femur, crushed both heels, and had open ankle fractures on both legs. I thought I was dead. I could hear the people yelling and running towards me to help. As I laid there in agony I wondered what my life would be like from now on due to my injuries, if I didn’t die. I was life flighted to Memorial Herman Hospital in Houston Texas.
I was in the hospital for three and a half weeks and endured 11 surgeries to repair my legs. I was sent home with halo’s on both lower legs and a titanium rod in my right femur. Chances of ever walking again were very slim. I laid in bed for months being taken care of by my then fiancé Danielle. At this point my future was very uncertain.
I was then diagnosed with Osteomelitis which is an infection of the bone and bone marrow in my left ankle. We fought it with I.V. antibiotics for a month and I had had enough. The antibiotics killed everything in my body and made me feel like death. I had seen prosthetics that people were wearing and how active they were and knew that this was my ticket to a normal active life. So the next time I went to the doctor I told him that I wanted to amputate my leg below the knee to get rid of the infection and give me a better quality of life. He was opposed to it at first but finally performed the surgery on Oct 15, 2010. After learning to walk on my prosthetic leg I noticed that it was out performing what was left of the right leg. Even though there was no infection to the right leg I wanted it gone as well. This did not sit well with my doctor and it took months of pleading to get him to agree. Finally he performed the surgery on Feb 11, 2011. I was finally on my way to becoming the man I once was. I knew that the life I had before me was going to be great and enjoyable because soon I would be able to walk and run and do all of the things that I used to. No longer was I going to be crippled!
I started riding my Harley as soon as I got my right prosthetic and love it. I have found a new life in wakeboarding. In June of 2012 I competed in the Extremity Games and won a silver medal in the wakeboarding novice division.
Hopefully my success can help other people with disabilities get out and do things such as sports and activities that challenge them and show able body people that we can rip it as good, if not better than them. I would also like to become a spokesperson for people with disabilities to give them hope and show that life is NOT over after amputation or any other life changing accident.
Cell: (281) 389-1301
Special thanks to:
- Dr. William McGarvey (Orthopedic Physician)
- Cliff McIness (Wakeboard Coach and Owner of Houston Watersports Complex)
- Ability Dynamics (Rush Foot, the most badass prosthetic foot on the planet)
- The Alleles Company (The most badass prosthetic designs on the planet)
- Simon Bones (TI, Multiple world record holder, and just an all around nice guy…Haha)
So it’s coming up on 5 years since my life was changed that day in Waller Texas. It’s been one hell of a ride and it’s nowhere near over.
I’ve been married, and been divorced. I had the most beautiful daughter and am loving watching her grow up. I’ve lost some friends, and gained some new ones.
I had promised my ex wife that I would never skydive again. But when she became an ex, those promises went out the window…haha
So in November I called up a buddy of mine Mr. Simon Bones and asked if he would take me on tandem so I could see if I was really done with skydiving. Of course he said yes and we were on. Thoughts of my accident were in the back of my head but all the joy of jumping was too. The goods outweighed the bad for sure. It didn’t take but about two seconds out of the plane and I knew I was home. It’s March now and twenty-five jumps later I’m back in the saddle! God, I love this and I love my life!
Big things are coming!
photos courtesy of Lee Keating