Any video game novice would notice the familiar 1UP graphic on the prosthesis of Gabe Cardier. When asked about it, he gets straight to the point, “It’s an extra life. It is a testament to having survived, of continuing my game after it could have been over.” This is what Gabe is all about. He’s honest in a way that never reads as overbearing or insecure. It’s just clean, unfiltered wisdom. Gabe has lived, loved and lost more so than a lot of people his age and, excuse the hyperbole, but you can’t help but be dazzled by his optimism.
Now, of course, you’re wondering how it all happened, everyone does. Some ask, some stare, but whatever your approach, Gabe is absolutely unflappable. He'll tell you it was a motorcycle accident, he'll give you all the details you can stand but in the end, he'll finish with a smile and tell you that he was lucky, and that day he earned his 1UP.
For a runner, stride length and frequency are everything. Footstrike and form are the focus and any small change can take months to adapt to. It’s no surprise when Gabe revealed that it took him nearly two years to learn how to run comfortably on his blade, fine-tuning the process with a compression sleeve, the right amount of outward swing in his step, the right shoe height, and the list goes on. But what he never lost was the drive to move forward. Running transformed from a fun hobby into an excruciating form of therapy and has now come full circle as a form of meditation, a time to focus on being present, alive and grateful.
Seven months prior to his accident, Gabe’s father lost a twelve year battle with Leukemia. Today, Gabe runs for him and a whole list of others who have inspired him. Now a consistent marathoner, he speaks to and raises money for children in the adaptive community, telling them about races won and giving them hope. He sees in them a generation who can handle anything because they already defied the odds at such a young age. When asked if he considers himself lucky, Gabe responds just as you might expect, “No,” he shrugs. “I don’t believe in luck. I believe things happen as a direct consequence of our decisions. Life has a way of getting you where you need to be”.