James Bond uses his flashy designs as an opportunity to talk about his below-the-knee amputation.
When James Bond enters a room, people are likely to take notice. However, it’s not because of the name he shares with the fictional British spy, also known as 007.
You’re more likely to find this James Bond brandishing a golf club than some fancy gadget or gun, and it’s his legs – the right leg more specifically – that tend to turn heads.
James is an above-the-knee amputee, and instead of hiding his disability, he’s making it stand out.
From flashing lights to swimming goldfish or candy corns, this Brooksville, Florida resident has created patterns to decorate his prosthesis, an Ottobock C-Leg.
“Cool,” is one of the first things people say when they see his quirky designs.
The funky creations aren’t just for looks, however; he uses them as an opportunity to talk about his disability.
“Children would come up to see, and I would have the chance to educate them,” he said.
Other amputees have also taken notice.
James has participated in Encompass Health’s Rehabilitation Hospital of Spring Hill’s amputee support group with his wife, Eva. He brings the same twinkle found in his creative designs to the group and often is responsible for breaking the ice.
“They pick on me when I walk in with a new design,” James said. “They’ll say, ‘Mr. Show Off, you’ve got to be different don’t you?’ But it’s because they love me. Ultimately, I feel like it shows them that yes, you can all do this.”
James wasn’t always so sure, however, that he could do this.
A 29-year amputee, James was riding his motorcycle in 1987 on vacation, before becoming a U.S. Army helicopter mechanic. A drunk driver pulled out in front of him crashing James into a parked car and sending him airborne. He landed with a bounce and his helmet smashed into two pieces.
The first 10 years as an amputee was tough, James recalled. He spent much of that time on crutches as technology hadn’t yet provided a proper prosthetic.
When he finally did get one, James didn’t care what people thought about his new leg. He was thrilled – and determined – to get back to his favorite pastime, golf. Now, he helps other amputees get back in the game as a certified peer visitor on the course.
Finally comfortable in his own shoes again, adding a little bling to his prosthesis was the natural next step for James.
His first creation came in 2010. It was the holidays, and a display of Christmas lights sparked the idea. James purchased a strand and rushed home to deck his prosthesis for the holidays.
It was a crowd-pleaser immediately, so he decided to continue to decorate his prosthesis for the seasons, and anything else he fancied. He created a pattern that fits inside his prosthesis, making it easy to change his design on a whim.
He now takes his designs on the road traveling to conferences, including the Amputee Coalition’s national conference, where James’ quirky prosthetic designs have stood out in the crowd and on the dance floor.
The past three years James has also taken his golf game and coordinated outfits and prosthetic designs to Iowa for the National Veterans Tee Tournament where disabled veterans take to the course.
Today, you could say this James Bond is a man of many missions, but it’s no mystery where you will most likely find him. Working on his truck, kayaking, hand cycling around a local park or, you guessed it, on the golf course. Another sure thing – he’ll definitely stand out in the crowd, and, of course, that’s by design.