Tony Drees: A Purple Heart Veteran, Adaptive Athlete Who Uses Skiing As A Vehicle To Serve The Community

by | Apr 27, 2022 | Podcast

Tony Drees is  a Purple Heart  Desert Storm Veteran; as well as an adaptive athlete who uses skiing as a vehicle to serve  the community.

He survived the deadliest scud missile  attack of the Iraq war thirty year ago.  Twenty-eight  members of his unit lost their lives.  Tony survived but his right leg was severely  injured.  He endured over seventy surgeries to save his right leg. He actually was able to function and live for a while with his injured leg, a feat that he doctors called a miracle

He was successful in a sales job. He got married and became a father. He unfortunately struggled with alcohol and opioid addiction, and then got sober. All the while, he was living with an open wound in his leg that just wouldn’t heal. In 2017 severe blood and bone infections left him with a choice: amputate his leg or die.

Just a couple days before the surgery, right around Tony’s  50th birthday, he was talking with his son Quincy about skiing,  something he did in the past. After surgery  his rehab was to be a year long. It only took four months. It was because skiing was on his  mind. 

The feelings of guilt for living always drove him to achieve high goals 

So in 2018, he took up skiing on one leg and has achieved remarkable feats on the mountain. He uses his skiing to inspire, to serve to promote diversity. 

Episode Highlights:  

  • Serving  his country and almost losing his leg. 
  • Struggling with survivor’s guilt, depression and destructive behavior
  • Breaking from his career, moving to focus on being  an athlete
  • How Tony Drees  starting skiing again after his amputation 
  • What’s next for Tony Drees in the coming season
  • Tony Drees sharing  some powerful life lessons

Guest Bio:

Thirty  years ago Tony’s story became public when he survived the deadliest scud of the Iraq War.  Twenty-eight  soldiers perished, fifty-four of sixty-eight  of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s 14TH Quartermaster Army Reserve Unit were lost or wounded. He felt guilty for living. 

This always drove him to achieve incredibly high goals in anything that mattered to him. A lifetime of that and it seems he’s amassed a tremendous amount of opportunities to succeed.

He  lost his war-wounded leg after 74 Surgeries and a couple of bouts with cancer.

In 2018, he took up skiing on one leg. He  turned out to be pretty good. He also transformed literally overnight from a 200lb pro baller looking-body to a 140 one-legged man. 

Even with his  leg gone, he still had a duty to serve. He is progressing rapidly in skiing. He is an adaptive champion and motivational speaker.

He is continually seeking to inspire across a diverse audience. After people see him people always internally (and often externally) compare themselves to the one-legged person- everyone. That’s equity. Many of these folks are then moved to do something. That’s his influence and he uses it inclusively for positive representation of many groups that may otherwise go underserved. That’s his service.

His next challenge is to do a backflip on one ski!

He calls it BackFlips4Access!

Connect with Tony

Catch Tony Drees on his  site

Connect with Tony on  Instagram

Connect with Tony on  Facebook

Connect with Tony on Twitter

Watch Tony on YouTube

Did you enjoy today’s episode?

Please subscribe and leave a review. If you have questions, comments, or possible show topics, email

To subscribe and review use one links of the links below 




Get a copy of the book  Running Is Cheaper Than Therapy: A Journey Back to Wholeness 👉🏾 here. It is available in  hardback, paperback, and newly released audio form

Connect with Dr. Ouida Brown

Instagram @ouilifeouilove

Facebook @ouilifeouilove33

Twitter @ouilifeouilove

Youtube @ouilifeouilove

Sign up for my newsletter

Recent Posts

Finding Yourself Beyond Sports with Anna Marcolin

Finding Yourself Beyond Sports with Anna Marcolin

Do you find it difficult to define yourself beyond your sport? As athletes, we often identify ourselves with our sport and struggle to find our identity outside of it. In this episode, we sit down with psychotherapist Anna Marcolin to explore this topic and learn...

Pushing the Limits: The Story of Alex Torres and His Iron Man Journey

Pushing the Limits: The Story of Alex Torres and His Iron Man Journey

Alex Torres, an Ironman Triathlete, shares his journey of overcoming challenges and realizing his potential to become an Ironman. Alex started his athletic journey as the "runt of the Torres family," but through hard work and determination, he proved everyone wrong...