In this episode of the We’re Not Stumped podcast, I welcome Dr. Eric William Gabriel, a bi-lateral, above-knee amputee, as my guest. He was born and raised in Levittown, Long Island NY, one of the first pre-planned housing developments in the United States. While growing up, he enjoyed going to school, and playing baseball. Later in my life, Eric discovered softball. Starting in his late teens, he played competitive softball for 18 years. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but his playing style would come at a great cost.
Because of his aggressive playing style—often sliding headfirst into bases while wearing only shorts—Eric injured his knees. The constant scraping of skin on hard gravel caused deep abrasions and internal injuries. Years and years of wear and tear led to surgeries and more surgeries. At a certain point, Eric had to decide whether to endure the terrible pain and immobility caused by the mounting surgeries or have his right leg amputated. He opted for the latter, and in 2009, Eric had his right leg removed. A few years later, in 2018, he had to have his left leg amputated, resulting in him becoming a bi-lateral, above-knee amputee. Both 2009 and 2018 were the worst and yet best years of his life.
Eric found purpose and meaning. This started with his discovery and involvement in the sport of rowing, specifically adaptive rowing. He found, even though he was a bilateral amputee, that he could row using a machine called an ERG. Eventually, this led him into competition. He competed three times in the World Indoor Rowing Adaptive Championships in Boston, Massachusetts and won a silver medal at his first Championship. He recently finished first in the category of 60-year and older lower leg amputee males. In 2012, he was invited to try out for the United States Paralympic Rowing Team. Though he did not win a spot on the team, he is forever grateful for the opportunity and experience he gained through the leadership, inspiration, and motivation of his fellow athletes.
Eric Gabriel Website: https://gabrieleric42.wixsite.com/website
Eric’s GoFundMe for his house: https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-erics-disability-adaptive-home
GCU Graduation: https://youtu.be/QeZU8J3u2O0
GCU Feature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXRaKUdYJrI
Duke University Spotlight: https://www.contrastcreative.com/portfolio/all-staff-event/?prev_page=9
ABC11 TV Feature: https://abc11.com/double-amputee-rowing-eric-gabriel-gofundme/6380274/
CW22 Web Feature: https://raleighcw.com/news/22-now/eric-gabriels-amputee-journey
Eric Gabriel on Amplitude Magazine: https://livingwithamplitude.com/tag/eric-gabriel/
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