Many of us look back at our adolescent years and remember a whirlwind of emotions and experiences. These are the years where we are searching for identify and belonging. Whilst the rest of us were worrying about what to wear for the end of year dance or if we were going to get picked for the football team, Jack Eyers had his leg amputated.
Jack was born with a congenital condition in his right leg called PFFD. This condition affected the development of his tremor and hip joint and got progressively worse throughout his childhood and early teenage years. As he reflects back, he remembers being in a very dark place with no vision for his future. On one of his many hospital visits he was introduced to a patient called Louie who was born with a similar condition. Louie had elective surgery and had chosen to have his leg amputated. As Jack got chatting to Louie, he found out that he was now a one-legged stuntman and proudly showed pictures of film sets from ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘The Mummy’ to name a few. This inspiring interaction with a complete stranger was going to change Jack’s mindset and outlook on life forever. Louie taught Jack how to look beyond the disability and use the perceived disadvantage as a unique advantage.
At the age of 16, Jack electively had his leg amputated above the knee and at the age of 18 he joined an agency that specialised in amputee trauma acting. Joining the agency gave Jack new born confidence to try new things in life and it was a huge turning point. This turned out to be the first of many life accomplishments. Jack has since then performed at the 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, joined a modelling agency that specialised in diversity, being the first amputee to walk the New York fashion week, walked at the Milan, Moscow and London fashion weeks, featured on the front cover of Men’s Health, run his own very successful personal training business, won the title of Mr England and become a Great Britain canoeing world class athlete.
Today Jack has a list of achievements to be proud of, but it does not mean it was an easy road. Although there have been great highs, there have also been more challenging times. Jack said ‘I found it hard to accept that I was different. I wanted to be in the military or a firefighter, but my disability held me back’. Rather than letting it weigh him down throughout his life, he flipped his mindset and used his disability to create his own version of success. He believes in tackling your fears head on to get the most out of life. Public speaking has for many years got the better of him due to anxiety, so he challenged himself to speak at as many events as possible. In 2018, he spoke at 10 events. He believes his amputation has given him emotional intelligence that most people don’t develop until late adulthood, his own struggles have helped him show empathy for others.
When Jack was asked to give advice to someone struggling to stay mentally positive, he said ‘I have learnt to put a positive spin on things. I believe that life begins outside your comfort zone, so learn to embrace it and get used to it. You must have the mind of a designer and learn to adapt and overcome challenges because there will always be challenges. Also, you can’t underestimate the power of a good coach and supportive network. Surround yourself with great people and great things will happen’.
Jack still works hard to maintain his impressive physique and wellbeing. He wakes up at 5.30am every morning, trains 20 hours per week with the GB Paralympic strength and conditioning coaches and consumes 4500 calories per day from a varied and balanced diet. Jack’s hard work, discipline and courage to embrace every opportunity has allowed him to create the life of his dreams. I have a feeling that this is only the beginning.