Just as Bauer became addicted to going fast down the ski slopes, these wounded warriors wanted to do more and more.

"Whatever they're doing they want to do it faster," Bauer said. "They pushed us to get into more extreme sports."

In 2010, Bauer and other disabled veterans climbed to the top ofTanzania'sMount Kilimanjaro, which at 19,336 feet is the tallest mountain in Africa.

In June, he and four other veterans, who were about half his age and had served in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, started an ascent of Mount McKinley.


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Though two of the climbers had lost both their legs, "I was always the last one," Bauer said with a laugh. "They would call me the slug."

They worried that the cold and physical demands placed on their prosthetics would break them, but the carbon fiber and metal materials held up.

Bauer called placing his stump in the cold brace each morning "excruciating."

Gains through loss

Though he still takes part in mountain climbing and other extreme sports, Bauer has replaced much of the skiing he does with bike riding and hiking, two activities much easier on his aging joints.

Sports is how Bauer learned to love life again, and he has worked to pass that joy to others.

"We're just teaching the basics of how to," Bauer said of his organization. "Because once they have the basics, they can do anything."

That his job allows him to dabble in various sports is "icing on the cake," he said.

The best days, though, are when Bauer sees someone succeed in sports for the first time since becoming disabled.

"You get someone who really starts to love life again," he said.

Had the grenade not blown off his leg, Bauer likely would have never climbed Mount Kilimanjaro or made it to within a mile of the peak of Mount McKinley.

"The work for me has been the most fulfilling thing in my life," he said. "It's heartbreaking to see how far down people can get when they get disabled."

He said people often ask him whether he would have his current life or a new life with both legs.

Bauer responds that he wouldn't trade what he has now.

"I feel my life is more meaningful," Bauer said of his life with a disability. "I'm lucky in the fact that I focused on something fulfilling to me and helpful to others.

To RSVP for Bauer's talk at Rolling Road Golf Club, contact Allison Carroll at acarroll@rollingroadgc.com or 410-747-5194, extension 10.