According to the entry form sent in by Jim’s son, Jesse, Jim is a bona fide American hero. The U.S. Army even says so. After losing both legs in a land-mine explosion in Vietnam, Jim managed to wrack up an impressive bucket list of accomplishments from the front-row seat of his wheelchair:
He became a pilot.
He raced dirt bikes in Spain.
He ran with the bulls.
He tried downhill skiing, got bored and tried downhill ski racing.
He learned to water ski.
He hunted caribou in Alaska.
He swam with sharks.
He served as a volunteer firefighter.
He backpacked across Europe. Twice.
He ranked nationally in wheelchair basketball.
He appeared in Poison’s “Something to Believe In” video.
He was mentioned in three books by Senators and a Four-Star General.
“It’s not the accomplishments that make my dad a living legend,” said the younger Dehlin, “it is the impact he has had on people throughout his life that make him so. Over the 42 years since his injury, he continues to inspire people to tackle life and to succeed.”
Take, for example, how he used his sense of humor to improve the morale of other patients at Valley Forge Army Hospital—while he was dealing with his own injury. Or how he worked two jobs to put himself through school (he became an aviation maintenance specialist, then an educator) and plowed snow in the winter—for free for those in need. Or how he continues to challenge life by pushing boundaries and inspiring those around him to do the same.
“I am honored to be the recipient of the inaugural Stormy Kromer Living Legend award. To be included in such an elite group of finalists has been a humbling experience. I am blessed in my life to have my family and friends who have always supported me,” said Jim Dehlin, the inaugural Living Legend Award Recipient. “I am especially thankful to my son Jesse, who honored me as his Dad by nominating me. Many thanks to Stormy Kromer and all who voted,” Dehlin added.
As part of his Living Legend status, Dehlin receives a $500 Stormy Kromer gift certificate and a donation to the charity of his choice. Three percent of Stormy Kromer sales between January 9 and January 31, 2012, will be given to Homes for Our Troops, which builds specially adapted homes for disabled veterans.
“We see ourselves as a bit of a legend up here,” said Gina Thorsen, of the company which created its iconic ear-flap cap in 1903 and dozens of hand-stitched outdoor apparel items since that time, “but when we started reviewing the entries into our Living Legends contest, we were humbled to the point of speechlessness. These are incredible people, and Jim Dehlin is truly a hero. On behalf of the Stormy Kromer name, we are honored to recognize him as our inaugural Stormy Kromer Living Legend.”