Joe Sapere is a 66 year old retired Air Force Colonel and a recent below-the-knee amputee due to a mid-air collision with another sky diver in February of 2000.
Born in Yonkers, New York, Joe attended college at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio and entered the United States Air Force in 1963. He then spent the next 26 years flying electronic countermeasures and fighter aircraft. Obtaining a Masters degree in education in 1972 from the University of Southern California, Joe retired from the Air Force in 1989 and began a second career in elementary school teaching. He then taught fourth grade in the Virginia Beach Public Schools for the next nine years. He retired a second time in 1998, sold his house, and traveled the countryside in a 35 foot fifth wheel for the next five years.
An avid bicyclist, Joe spends every day, weather permitting, riding. After 10 months of rehab he returned to the sport of skydiving on December 24, 2000 and has been active ever since.
Eighteen months after his first amputation, Joe had a revision to his leg and was given a bone bridge or Ertl. This novel but time-proven procedure enables Joe to sustain the high forces on his residual limb while engaging in high impact activities such as skydiving and endurance bike riding.
Joe's goal in life is to demonstrate to other amputees that life gets better despite amputation. In 2002, Joe founded Amputees Across America, and in partnership with HealthSouth Corporation, is joined each year by three other amputees to make a coast-to-coast skydiving and bicycle trip, visiting amputees and other rehab patients in rehabilitation hospitals along the way. Through his efforts and the efforts of many behind the scenes supporters and guest riders, millions have been inspired to regain the lives that they had prior to the onset of their physical disability.