Meet America’s Blade Runner, Blake Leeper

You probably have not heard much about a kid named Blake Leeper….but you will! Mr. Leeper, born in 1989 in Kingsport Tennessee to William and Edith Leeper and was not a normal birth. In fact, only one in a million have the congenital birth defect they he has where the legs stop growing below the knees. Now, this would certainly be a deterrent for most…but quite the opposite is true for Blake. In fact, Blake received his first set of prosthetics and 9 months later he was literally off to the races!

Blake’s story is very unique to most people who have prosthetics. He has had to deal with the prejudice and stereotypes of being disabled almost his entire life. This was a fierce, lonely, and often times a hostile road that has made Blake Leeper the man he is today. Most of us cannot even imagine what it would be like to be born low income, in the deep south, African American and with no legs; in fact, I would say that most of us would say that was a bad lot in life…but Blake will tell you a different story.

“I can remember growing up and kids teasing me ferociously, calling me the half student and peg legs, and it hurt…but it also lit a flame inside of me to work harder than the next guy or girl, and that has stayed with me my entire life”

_LAP9161-2Blake started playing T Ball at 5 years of age and basketball at 7, and became as good as any of the kids on the team. He had dreams about being the first double amputee in the NBA,but the NBA has a rule about those kind of things… but that did not stop Blake..in fact, Blake Leeper is UNSTOPPABLE!!

In the spring of 2006, Blake, by chance was walking by a TV and they were show casing the now former disgraced runner, Oscar Pistorius. “I knew at that exact second” Blake said,” that this was my destiny,” “I did not know how hard it as going to be to make it happen ,however, but I knew I had to make it happen!” Blake started on a 2 year letter writing and research campaign and it paid off big time.

Blake was able to convince the Challenged Athletes Foundation,( CAF) to fund a brand new pair of $40,000 carbon fiber cheetah legs from the company, Ossur out of Iceland. These were the same prosthetics that were made for Oscar Pistorius. Oscar and Blake have the exact same birth defect. Blake was told to manage his expectations, as the chances of him running like Oscar were slim to none. Blake Leeper took that to heart as a challenge, and it was everyone else that had to manage their expectations. Blake was world class out of the blocks, and a new world he could never even conceive was suddenly all around him. “When I ran
for the first time on my new legs, I felt INVINCIBLE” “It was a feeling I have never even dreamed of and I knew in my heart I could be the fastest man in the world with no legs’!_LAP9152

In the summer of 2012, Blake qualified for the US PARALYMIC TEAM, and was on his way to London. He was not only going to be racing for his country at the highest level, he would be racing side by side with Oscar Pistorius on the world stage. “It was all so surreal walking into the stadium for the first time” “The enormity and colossal size of the stadium was just awesome; it fueled me physically and physiologically. I had my first out of body experience!”

Blake would go on to make history in 2012 winning a Silver and Bronze medal in the 100m and 400 meters. In less than 11 seconds, Blake’s life would change forever; THE AMERICAN BLADERUNNER WAS BORN “It just made sense”,says Blake. “The Bladerunner brand is so strong around the world through the film and what Oscar had been able to do, that THE AMERICAN BLADERUNNER was the best brand to create.

Since his 2012 medal win, Blake’s star is rising dramatically. He has been featured on several nationwide interviews from Good Morning America, FOX AND FRIENDS, to even being surprised by Bo Jackson on the late night talk show Arsenio Hall. “When my boyhood hero surprised me on the Arsenio Hall Show, I went speechless and numb” “I was unable to process what was happening for several seconds” It was indeed a magical moment for Mr. Leeper.. a moment that will go down as some of the best television in history.

Blake is a man of many firsts: The first double amputee to be on the road to the primary Olympics 2016, and he was the first amputee to fly with the Airforce Thunderbirds and to be an honorary race official at the Daytona 500, where he brought out the green flag in front of millions on FOX National TV. “The President of the Daytona Speedway had seen me on Arsenio, and asked me if I wanted to be an honorary race official; I jumped at the chance and to bring out the green flag in front of 200,000 people and 14 million viewers on FOX was beyond words” ‘It just keeps getting better” say Blake. The bonus on top of everything was to be able to go MACH 2 in an Airforce Thunderbird F-16. ” Trying to describe the feeling of being in a F-16 at the speed of sound is just impossible” “But I can definitely say without a doubt I am now officially the FASTEST AMERICAN BLADERUNNER IN THE WORLD! ”

Mr. Leepers journey is in its infancy. He is still 24 months from qualifying for RIO 2016 Primary games, and should he do that, he will be Americas first disabled double amputee in the primary Olympics. This is a road that has never been traveled before, and Blake is on it solo._LAP9160-3

Blake Leeper represents the 54,000,000 disabled Americans and is truly Americas first disabled SUPER HERO!! Blake Leeper is on a road of destiny that has never been traveled by an American before. WHEN I last spoke to Blake, he looked me square in the eyes and told me “Failure is not an option, I will see you in RIO!

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Steven C. Barber
About Steven C. Barber 1 Article

Steven C Barber is a writer and film maker living in Santa Monica, California. He was born in Syracuse, New York in 1961, and is the great nephew of Edith Wharton, the first female writer to win the Pulitzer Prize.

After a three year stint at Augusta Military Academy in Ft. Defiance, Virginia in the late 1970’s and then graduating from Western Kentucky University, Mr. Barber headed west to give his writing and acting chops a workout.

Having worked on many films and a series of television shows in the early 1980’s, he took a break from Hollywood and found work and adventure on 19 cruise ships in the 1980’s and early 1990’s that would take him to more than countries and over 10,000,000 nautical miles. His first novel, “Below the Waterline,” a fictional and whimsical tale of love on the high seas, is a big seller on Amazon.com.

Upon returning to Hollywood in the mid 1990’s, Mr. Barber found some success on a series of reality shows and, after a falling out with a large corporation he had been working with, decided to bank roll everything he had with $50,000 worth of camera equipment and give documentary film making a shot. This fortuitous and serendipitous action has paid off in a big way.Mr. Barber’s first film, “Return to Tarawa” is an award-winning documentary that has been able to get congressional legislation passed in Congress to bring home MIAs from World War II. Actor Ed Harris lent his voice to this tremendous story of redemption and healing of 90 year-old, World War II veteran Leon Cooper.

Mr. Barbers second film “Unbeaten” is a magical story about 31 Paraplegics who take on the world most grueling road race and push their wheelchairs 267 miles in six days between Fairbanks and Anchorage. This amazing film has narration from Dan Aykroyd. “Unbeaten” was released for release in early January 2010. Mr. Barber’s mission is to raise the profile of the disabled athlete and the disabled American.

The success of Unbeaten and Return to Tarawa has allowed Vanilla Fire Productions to grow into a full service Documentary and Commercial video production house. Mr. Barbers PR background along with a strong work ethic and sales background sees no limits as to growth. Funds have been raised for “Until They Are Home”, the sequel to the wildly successful “Return to Tarawa”, and is scheduled for release on Memorial day. Directly following the Memorial Day release, a Veterans Day launch is scheduled for “The Carrier”, a film about the first basketball game aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. Mr. Barber was granted exclusive filming rights by the United States Navy to bring this incredible story to the world.

He is working on three more documentaries for release in 2012 and considers himself extremely fortunate and is very grateful to have had this early success in the documentary film world.

  • Ron Carpenter

    Thank you so much for this! This story was truly such an inspiration for my son. Thank you Blake and Steven and Disabled magazine team!!