Blind double-amputee inspires others by living life to its fullest

Published 8:28 pm Thursday, February 7, 2019

Corporal Matthew Bradford, USMC (Ret.) received a standing ovation after describing how he hopes to be an inspiration to everyone who sees him living his life to the fullest, even though he’s blind and a double amputee. Bradford was the featured speaker during Ephraim McDowell Health Care Foundation’s annual Happy Heart Luncheon on Thursday.

While on patrol in Iraq, Bradford was severely injured in 2007 when he stepped on an IED and it exploded. The blast put him in a coma for three weeks and resulted in the amputation of both legs, complete vision loss and many other injuries. After many years of rehabilitation, Bradford became the first blind, double amputee to reenlist in the USMC.

Amanda Bradford hands her husband, Matthew Bradford, his cane after he spoke on Thursday. Photo by Robin Hart

He has since retired from the military, but continues working to help other veterans as leader of the 6th District Veterans Coalition in Lexington. Bradford is also a husband to Amanda, and the father of three children.

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Bradford said he feels blessed, despite the injuries and hardships he’s had to face, and his heart is full of compassion and care for everyone around him. He said lessons he learned as a Marine have kept him focused on living a full and meaningful life.

The first lesson “adapt and overcome” inspired Bradford to stay healthy, active and continue to exercise. “It’s been tough,” he said, but he remains motivated to “live life to the fullest.”

He said he has climbed half-way up Mt. Rainier, skydived and surfed. He also hunts and fishes.

Bradford said he hopes to be a motivator for others who don’t have the physical restrictions as he does and they will see him and say to themselves, “If there’s a blind guy without legs doing things, then why can’t I?”

Leading by example is another lesson he tries to follow. He credits his wife as his “daily motivation,” for this lesson, he said. She gets their children up and to school, him to work, then goes to her job. Hours later she picks everyone up, goes home and continues doing daily chores. Plus, she travels with Bradford to speaking engagements.

Bradford said the third lesson he follows is to never quit. He didn’t want to take the “easy road” of suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, because of his injuries. “I took the other road. There is life outside of hospital doors,” Bradford said.

Plus, Bradford said didn’t want to let his military brothers down. Going to public speaking engagements such as the one on Thursday, Bradford said he hopes to inspire and motivate people to “Love the ones around you. Enjoy life.”