By Connor Berube
Iraq War veteran and Bridgewater State University student Greg Reynolds is lucky to be sitting in the classroom.
Reynolds is in excellent physical condition and can even do push-ups one-handed. More times than not, he can outlast people who dare to challenge him in a push-up contest using both their arms.
However, Reynolds does not have that option—five years ago, he lost his left arm in a nearly fatal motorcycle accident. But that hasn’t stopped Reynolds from enjoying life and making the most of the ‘lemons’ he has been given.
“The only limitations you have are the ones you make,” Reynolds said.
The 29-year-old communications major previously attended Bridgewater State in 2009, earning his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
At the age of 18 though, Reynolds left on deployment for Iraq in February 2003, where he witnessed the horrors of war firsthand. After 15 months of living in a tent in his own sweat while avoiding camel spiders and scorpions, Reynolds finally returned home from Iraq in May 2004.
“Long story short, I went there a kid and came home a man,” he said.
Reynolds earned Army Commendation With Valor for actions in an ambush as well as numerous other awards.
On June 22, 2008, Reynolds’ life changed forever. After spending a day at Colt State Park in Bristol, Rhode Island, with friends, they decided to leave in the afternoon because of an incoming storm. Reynolds had taken his motorcycle and was leaving the park when a 75-year old man turned his Chevy Impala into Reynolds’ lane of travel, causing a collision.
Reynolds was immediately taken to Rhode Island Hospital where he had no brain activity and fell into a coma that lasted six weeks. With a one in 2,000 chance of surviving, Reynold’s chances looked bleak, but he defied all odds.
The near fatal accident did come at a price—Reynolds’ left arm was hanging on by a muscle and had to be amputated.
“When I woke up, I didn’t know who or where I was,” he said.
Reynolds was transferred to Boston for the remainder of his care, where he learned to walk, talk, and eat again for over a year.
In 2010, Reynolds rediscovered his love for the game of baseball. David Van Sleet, head coach of the Wounded Warrior Amputees softball team and employed by the Department of Veteran Affairs, was eager to hand select Reynolds for the club after he tried out.
It wasn’t long before the former center fielder for the Dighton-Rehoboth Falcons became the starting left fielder for the Wounded Warriors. Along with the rest of the team, Reynolds travels throughout the United States and competes in different Major League Baseball stadiums.
Reynolds learned quickly how to hit and field well with one arm. Reynolds mans the outfield as good as anyone, thanks to his catch-and-flip technique. He’ll throw the ball up after catching it, drop the glove, and throws the ball to his infielders bare-handed.
While Reynolds has made improbable strides in his recovery, there are still a few challenges that he faces daily. He suffers from brain trauma which at times can hamper learning capabilities, like interpreting information from lectures and reading materials.
“Sometimes I have an issue defining what a question is asking,” Reynolds said.
Regardless of this, Reynolds’ hard work and determination is noticed by his professors.
“Greg is one of those students that professors love to see,” said Bridgewater State professor Maria Hegbloom, who has Reynolds in her communication class. “He’s dedicated, interested and responsible. But even more importantly, Greg brings a different perspective to the classroom. He has had experiences that many of his classmates have not and as such he offers a different view of events, issues and material than many of his peers.”
Outside of the classroom, Reynolds can have a tough time holding materials and pulling out his wallet, but he doesn’t let it bother him.
“Overall, I really don’t put any limitations on what I can and can’t do.” he said
In 2011, Reynolds established his own company, Makin’ Lemonade, to inspire and promote a positive and active lifestyle for individuals when life hands them ‘lemons.’ He gives inspirational presentations, community givebacks, and participates in annual blood drives.
So when life decides to throw you lemons, simply follow Reynold’s advice, squeeze the heck out of those lemons and make lemonade to your taste.
Connor Berube is a Comment contributor. Editor-In-Chief Greg Dudek edited this story. Email him at email@example.com.