Video: Injured Iraq vets hit the slopes

By Kerry Sanders Correspondent
NBC News
updated 4/3/2006 6:22:11 PM ET 2006-04-03T22:22:11

"I was hit by an IED," he says. "My driver and gunner were killed instantly."

The roadside bomb cost the 24-year-old his right arm, his left leg and almost his life.

"I actually flat-lined twice," says Kules.

But just three months after the explosion, Kules is skiing... yes, skiing.

"Like all the runs, that's way too much fun," he says after one trip down the mountain.

Kules and dozens of others vets hit America's slopes because of one determined man who's made it his mission to help the wounded.

He's Kirk Bauer, a Vietnam vet who talks the talk and walks the walk. Bauer lost his leg to a grenade 36 years ago. He endured seven operations and spent six months in the hospital.

"The most important thing is whatever it takes to get them out here, I'm going to make that happen," says Bauer. "And if it's because they believe what I tell them because I've been there, that's great. The important thing is they get out here and they do it."

Bauer takes his message right to the wounded.

"If you think this is difficult, it's a myth," he tells one group of disabled veterans. "It's easy. You can't imagine how easy it is."

So he takes wounded warriors mountain climbing, sailing, biking and water skiing.

"Really, this is part of a bigger process," says Bauer. "This is part of rebuilding these guys and gals lives."

With a growing number of wounded coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, Bauer and his team are on target to spend more than $1 million this year on these programs. How does he pay for it? Mostly from donations from average Americans who send in $10, $20, $50.

Kirk Bauer is helping the wounded like Ryan Kules prove to themselves they're not only alive, they can still live a full life.

"Now that I'm here, I know I can get this far and there's still a long way to go," says Kules.

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