Kade Patterson, a 36-year-old from Indiana, is grateful to the Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, II Memorial Fund for giving him his life back.
The E3 Private First Class in the Army was severely injured during a deployment in Kuwait in 2005 when he was just 19 years old. During a mission to recover the fallen, Patterson severely damaged his left leg and hip, and suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury.
After being honorably discharged the next year, Patterson had to undergo four operations to his leg… but the excruciating pain persisted for more than a decade. While working at Walter Reed Medical Center, he met double amputee Christy Gardner, who is on the U.S. Sled Hockey Team. She told him about how her life changed after the Zilinski Memorial Fund sponsored her double leg amputations so she could walk with prosthetic legs. Christy introduced Kade to our co-founder, Marion Zilinski.
In 2018, the Zilinski Memorial Fund sponsored Kade’s left leg amputation. “I am now married to my wife, Lynn, with this crazy 16-month-old toddler, Frankie, who is currently pinching my ear. And, I am happy to say, I am completely mobile with my prosthetic leg. Of course, I need to be mobile to keep up with this little one,” said Patterson.
“I couldn’t walk for ten plus years. I was in a wheelchair full-time. Now, I am not limited by that chair,” added Patterson, who works as a Recreation Therapist for people with developmental disabilities and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
“I use my own disabilities to help others with challenges. I help them learn to play and have fun, all in a safe way. We go hiking, rock climbing, fishing, camping… I teach them how to paint, how to work with clay, how to cook… and I get to do that without the limitation of a wheelchair.”
Kade’s service dog, Draco, who is now retired, has also helped him cope with PTSD. Kade told us, “I had more than ten years of suffering, but now I have an extremely successful business, an active family, and clients I love.”