Logan Aldridge was 13 years old when a freak accident wakeboarding with his family resulted in amputating his left arm. Rather than feel sorry for himself the then-teenager —who remembers crying just once over being an amputee—dove into using his platform to help others. His mother arranged for Aldridge to speak to Wells Fargo at 14, an event that snowballed and eventually lead to him working with a marketing agency.
That’s where the idea for Beyond Expectations, the Logan Aldridge Charitable Foundation came about.
“I learned a lot about expectations and about how they are just pre-existing standards that are set,” said Aldridge, who made countless inspirational speeches as a teen. “A lot of times those expectations limit our potential. You have to work past them.”
But as Aldridge entered high school and went through college, the website and foundation took a backseat to academics and a social life.
When Aldridge, now 26, found CrossFit four years ago he noticed there was another more-urgent platform for him: advancing the growth and inclusion of adaptive athletes.
“If 10 years from now an individual loses an arm or a leg, I want them to know immediately of a platform where they can go and find information, [assistance] devices, tools and resources for all sorts of questions that their life now has,” said Aldridge, who has teamed up with Victor Pellegrino to create just that.
“That’s the void that I’ve noticed. This is a cool step to take in that direction. The world doesn’t end when you lose an arm or a leg. There’s a shift. It’s not ‘woe is me’. It’s ‘what can I do now?’ We want to start that dialogue.”
Aldridge and Pellegrino, who initially met through social media (Aldridge was a fan of Pellegrino’s Victory Grips) started brainstorming a few years ago about making something together. Pellegrino—a former gymnast who came up with the idea for Victory Grips while drinking bourbon with an old friend on his deck, has always been intrigued with innovation.
That’s where the idea for the one-handed row handle came about. Unveiled at the Wodapalooza Fitness Festival earlier this month, the device caused dozens of inquiries, not just in Miami, but all over the world.
“I like anything that has to do with design,” said Pellegrino, who is currently taking pre-orders for the row handle and is giving away two to every gym that hosts a CrossFit Speciality Course: Adaptive Training seminar. “When you combine fitness and sport with helping improve a life? To me, that’s the epitome of inspiration.”
The rowing handle —which also sparked an unexpected amount of interest among wheelchair bound athletes —was just the start. Aldridge’s deadlift strap —which has him close to a 500-lb lift —is another product. And the pair hope that they can create a platform, called Adaptive Division, where adaptive athletes can share ideas and help develop products that enable them to better pursue their athletic endeavors.
“Fitness is a great way and great measurement of physical output. There are a lot of adaptive athletes out there; just because people aren’t posting on social media nonstop about their lifts or adaptiveness doesn’t mean they don’t want to be recognized or competing at a high level.”
Headed to Miami for @thewodapalooza and am excited to share this one-handed rowing attachment with my fellow single arm athletes! It's a great simple solution to an awkward grip that allows for more power, stamina and grip strength. They will be available at the @victorygrips booth and you can give it ago! Even if you have both arms, this is a cool way to train some unilateral pulls on a @concept2inc erg. I love it! @concept2greg @reebok @adaptivecrossfit
Aldridge and Pellegrino ultimately hope the Adaptive Division is about more than just fitness equipment. They want to create a place where athletes can open source information and help others who are struggling to transition into life as an adaptive athlete.
“We are trying to take it a step further. We want to be a place where you can get equipment, learn about its use and the proper form and just get life hacks in general,” Aldridge said. “Life hacks of how to live a life with one hand or leg or paralysis. We also hope to provide the resources and devices that are needed to take the next stop forward.”
That’s where Aldridge’s Beyond Expectations Foundation comes in. The plan for the charitable institute he started more than a decade ago is now to help individuals who have a solution to adaptive needs but don’t have the resources to make that product mainstream.
“This is about helping people,” said Pellegrino, who has a landing page on Victory Grips for the Adaptive Division website. “Will it help Victory grips? Yes, but that’s secondary. This is a cause that’s bigger than ourselves.”
#ItsJustAnArm is a hashtag Aldridge frequently uses and what his mother told him all those years ago when he suffered the initial accident. His purpose back then was to inspire with his words. Now, he hopes to create a community of leaders.
“[The foundation, the website], he had all these things established years ago that coincide exactly with what we want to do together going forward,” Pellegrino said. “It’s an epiphany.”
Added Aldridge: “It’s almost eerie and gives me goosebumps how much of a perfect scenario this is, 13 years later. We have stumbled upon a perfect storm to take what I’ve created a few years ago and really create a platform like no other.”
Pictures courtesy of Victory Grips and Logan Aldridge.