There are certain people that you meet in life that you know are special right away; teaching us and inspiring us to push beyond our own perceived limitations. Jeff Denholm is not only an incredible surfer, paddle boarder, skier, and mountain biker, but also an active environmentalist and innovator for high-tech prosthetic arms that have allowed him to continue his athletic aspirations. Jeff Denholm was a Merchant Marine actively enjoying his chance to travel the world surfing and skiing; doing all the outdoor things he loves when he lost his right arm on a fishing boat. He was 27 at the time of the accident thus changing the course of his life, but not completely. After a few surgeries and time off for rest and healing, Jeff was ready to recover and get back to being outdoors and living an adventurous lifestyle.
The recovery process was quick for Jeff. Fortunately growing up with a solid family foundation Jeff was emotionally able to keep depression and other symptoms associated with limb loss at bay. It truly then came down to the physical recovery. Obviously losing his arm set him back, but Jeff’s resilience and determination carried him through.
Of course now only having 5 fingers to climb up on the side of a mountain, or skiing on a slope posed obvious problems, so Jeff realized quickly he just has to be more methodical and prepared. For surfing Jeff took up paddle boarding and became so driven that he actually competes internationally which has given him strength in the right side of his body where normally an amputee would have atrophy and rapid loss of muscle. Incredibly he can paddle-board 35 miles with ease. Jeff attributes his remarkable fitness level not to just one particular exercise regimen, but to his all-around healthy lifestyle.
Jeff is now 45 years old and his energy level is unmatched. He conditions with running and increases flexibility with yoga. He eats purely organic food and gets regular massages to keep blood flowing and body alignment intact.
To be able to paddle and keep up, Jeff has to use a prosthetic arm. Back in 1993 when Jeff’s accident occurred there really wasn’t anything on the market that was sufficient enough to support the kind of outdoor activities he loves the most, so instead of sitting back and complaining, Jeff made the decision to design high-tech prosthetic arms that help him and others reach their goals. As Jeff says, “he excels beyond persons with two arms and that’s a blessing.”
Jeff is an active environmentalist, and Ambassador for Patagonia, a clothing company focused on high-end outdoor apparel. Founded back in 1972 by Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia is also leading in environmental activism, which goes right along with Jeff’s primary focus. Patagonia commits 1% of their total sales to environmental groups, and since 1985 and has donated 25 million dollars to various organizations.
Jeff could care less about making money surfing, he really wants to inspire and I think he is doing just that. Santa Cruz is fortunate to have him showing us how we can live to our fullest potential no matter the odds, and that protecting the environment should be all of our focus.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with SCW Jeff. We all are looking forward to seeing what you do next!