By Jewel Connelly, Communications Specialist
Reaching into homes in 25 countries (and counting), what started out for Rick Bontkowski as a passion project has quickly taken on a greater purpose in just over a year. As a right below knee amputee himself, Rick knows from experience what it’s like to go through the recovery process and the importance of having support throughout the journey. The Amp’d Up 211 podcast was born out of his effort to serve the amputee community by bringing their stories to the forefront and providing the resources needed to thrive in everyday life.
Rick’s own journey as an amputee began in 2016 when he lost his foot to bone disease. At the time he didn’t know anything about what it meant to live with limb loss, but he committed himself to resuming his fitness regime as soon as possible. Persevering through the challenges, Rick is an avid cyclist who rides almost every day and is even a self-proclaimed ‘gym rat.’ He’s also returned to drumming and performs with his prosthetic. “I believe my amputation has definitely pushed me into a much more fit version of myself because I really believe it was necessary to do the things I want to do as an amputee, pursue my dreams, and not feel inhibited by a prosthesis,” Rick shared. As he focuses on reaching his fullest potential, Rick hopes others are empowered through the podcast to make their own personal best the goal.
Everyone has a unique story to tell and since the podcast’s inception, Rick as the host has tried to curate a variety of guest speakers so there is someone everybody can relate to. “Inspiration is key but it comes in many forms,” Rick said. “Sometimes speaking to an amputee who is successful in business for example can have a much bigger impact on someone in contrast to a Paralympian.” Although he didn’t study broadcasting, he has a natural curiosity about people and passion for the subject matter that lends itself well to the podcast. It was actually his friend Brian and now producer who suggested Rick start a podcast for amputee listeners and loved ones. “We produce these episodes in the hope that it’ll reach amputees and their families and, in some way, make a difference,” he said. “I kept saying to myself if I could just inspire one person to get out of their chair, walk across the room, to just give it a try then I’ve done my job.”
Incidentally, the Amp’d Up 211 podcast’s very first guest was American Ninja Warrior competitor Gary Weiland who will be a speaker at the Amputee Coalition’s 2023 National Conference. In talking to those who have been an amputee for several years to recent amputees such as the Bachelorette’s Cam Ayala, Rick meets people at all different points on their journey. “It’s such a long process and all those support systems along the way I think are so critical,” he said. “If just listening to a one-hour podcast gets you back on the path you may have fell off of, I think that’s a good thing.” Every day presents a new opportunity to try again, to do something differently, and Rick is hoping the podcast can be a catalyst for continuous forward momentum.
New episodes are typically released on the 15th and 30th of every month and are available on YouTube (The AMP’D UP211 Podcast) and all podcast platforms. If you would like to be considered as a guest on the podcast, please reach out to Rick on ampup211.com.