The Other ‘Big Game’ In Minneapolis – Wounded Warriors vs. NFL Veterans Football

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Brandon going in for a tackle
Brandon going in for a tackle

The Super Bowl wasn’t the only great football contest happening in Minnesota last week. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team (WWAFT) took on some former Minnesota Vikings for a little game of flag football at Concordia University on Wednesday. It was all to benefit veterans’ organizations including the WWAFT and a number of other initiatives which serve disabled veterans. We caught up with Brandon Korona, WWAFT player, Army veteran, and Next Step client, to get the inside scoop.

How did you become a member of the Wounded Warrior Team?

Actually, I played my first game last year in honor of Veteran’s Day.

What was it like playing in this year’s game?

It was awesome. It’s great to see NFL players care about the cause and great to get out on the field. I was two for two on catches including one for a touchdown.

Congratulations! That must have been a great moment.

It sure was. It felt terrific.

I understand you served in Afghanistan. When was that, and how were you injured?

I was there five years ago, in 2013. My left leg was severely injured when a 200-pound IED (Improvised Explosive Device) hit our armored vehicle. After years of surgery and rehab, I made the decision to have it amputated.

Was your amputation done in a special way?

Yes. It’s called a Ewing amputation, and I was only the second person to have it. It was done so I could still use my brain to fire the muscles in my residual limb which will help me with a bionic implantation later on.

How was your experience getting fitted for your prosthesis? How is your leg holding up?

It’s good. Right now, I’m using an All Pro, but am looking to move into a Cheetah (a high-performance carbon fiber prosthesis). My prosthetist [Ian Gray] at Next Step is doing great things for me. We’re really close. He’s going to be teaching me snowboarding next.

Did you have to make any special game preparations?

Really, no. I was good to go.

I know camaraderie in the Army is very strong. Are you still in touch with the veterans you served with?

I sure am. In the Army “we’re all one.”  In fact, while I was in Minneapolis, I hung out with one of the guys I deployed with.

What’s next for the team? What preparations do you need to make?

The plan is San Diego later this year. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team pays for all my expenses. All I had to pay for this time was my wife’s ticket.”

Brandon and wife Chelsea in Minneapolis for the Wounded Warrior vs. NFL veterans football game
Brandon and wife Chelsea in Minneapolis for the Wounded Warrior vs. NFL veterans football game

Speaking of your wife, what’s her name, and is she a football fan?

Her name is Chelsea. We’ve been married for a year and half. She’s a huge WWAFT fan and had a great time while we were there, especially with buying a lot of merchandise.”

If you could give one piece of advice to a veteran just going through the process of being fitted for a prosthesis, what would it be?

Don’t stop. Seriously, that’s the key. Know there’s so much more after being fitted for prosthesis. My biggest thing is the perseverance to push forward. Just go. Take advantage of all you can do. You can run. You can do football. You can do anything you really want to do.

Where are you watching the Super Bowl?  We’re publishing this after the game. Who won?

We’ll be with my wife’s family. Go Eagles! Actually, I’m a Bills fan, but this wasn’t our year.

 

 

Are you wondering who won this epic WWAFT-NFL matchup? The WWAFT did not disappoint and kept their long winning streak intact. They bested the NFL veterans for the 18th time by the score of (wait for it) 63 to 25.

Brandon was also featured in Celtics “Heroes Among Us” tribute before their game on Friday, May 19, 2017.

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