March 13, 1957 – March 12, 2013

Yesterday, we shared on Facebook that Rick Leipold, our adaptive equipment specialist, had passed away. Today would have been Rick’s 56th Birthday.  I am surprised that he is not older–not because he looked older but because he had done so much in his life.  Many years ago, Rick lost his leg in a motorcycle accident but he never felt sorry for himself. Instead, he used his personal experiences to help wounded service members adapt to their new physical challenges.  He loved working with each service member and they loved his sense of humor and positive outlook.

I visited Rick’s Facebook page yesterday to see what others had posted. So many service members and friends had wonderful stories to share.

A Vietnam veteran wrote:

“The world of injured and wounded service members has lost a great man.  Rick may have looked short in his wheelchair but he was a giant of a man with a heart to match.  He was an icon in the world of handcrank wheelchairs.  Rick could build an adaptive chair for any type of injured or wounded person.  I can hear Rick screaming out the side window of his van ‘You can do it you old Marine!’ as I struggled up a mountain on the 9-11 Ride to Recovery. Rick was ‘good people.’ God speed my friend.”

A Hope For The Warriors staff member shared:

“My favorite memory is when Rick and one of our Team members went up and down the escalators in their wheelchairs at the Staten Island Ferry.  Everyone rushed to their assistance, not realizing they were in complete control.  Rick inspired service members to not only feel comfortable in their chairs, but he taught them cool tricks to maneuver through cities.  Rick’s positive outlook on life will stay with me forever.”

There are many more stories, photos and memories.  Each tells the same story.  Rick–you will be missed.

Story in The Times