Brandon Holiday has always been a standout athlete. He was involved with several sports as a kid – tennis, baseball and martial arts. When he arrived at the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, he played first singles on the tennis team.
So when his left leg was amputated in 2006, his life began looking a little different.
“I was born with an autoimmune disease called System Lupus,” Holiday said. “I used to be a police office and after an injury at work, complications from the disease arose.”
Holiday was injured in the line of duty in 1998 and, due to the disease, severe blood clots formed all over his body. In 2000, he had to leave his job after being put on blood thinners. Then, in 2006, he was hospitalized for four months where he underwent several procedures that eventually resulted in the removal of his left leg below the knee.
He was originally placed in a wheelchair unsure if he would ever walk, let alone play sports, again. But in 2007, that changed.
“I was out one day and saw a flyer for OPAF and thought, ‘I need to get involved with that,’” Holiday said.
OPAF is the Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Foundation and aims to enable individuals with orthotics and prosthetics to enjoy the rewards of personal achievement, physical fitness and social interaction.
Holiday has gotten back into tennis, recently winning the First Volley Tennis Tournament, the first tennis tournament for amputees to take place in America.
He has also become an avid kayaker and was named to the Team USA Sprint Kayak (Paracanoe) team in 2016. He spent the first several months of 2016 training with the USA Coach and some of his teammates in Florida in an attempt to make the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Since getting involved with OPAF, Holiday has found a new love for sports.
“OPAF creates a venue for people with similar challenges,” Holiday said. “We’re all in different stages of the healing process and it gives us the opportunity to spend time together and support each other. In the last ten years, I’ve learned how powerful sport can be in the healing process.”