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April – Limb Loss Awareness, Education and Empowerment

During the month of April across the United States, amputee support groups, veterans, prosthetists, rehabilitation centers and those with limb loss will be participating in a number of activities in their local areas to raise awareness.

“Limb loss is not uncommon and is becoming less uncommon every day,”  says Susan Stout, Amputee Coalition president & CEO “Many people are unaware of the causes of amputation and often see limb loss in just a few categories: the wounded warrior or the accomplished athlete. The fact is, limb loss affects every generation, from young to old and people from all walks of life. More than 2 million Americans live with limb loss and that number grows by 185,000 each year. “

Many people with limb loss have become mentors and advocates to others, raising public awareness and educating on adaptability, prevention and making yourself heard.  This month we’d like to highlight just a few of these people.

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Rich Romaine – Inspiring Mentor and Head Fabrication Tech

Rich Romaine was a professional carpenter, having a passion for shaping and fitting wood for functional and practical purposes.  After graduating from Cedar Grove High School, he continued his education at the County College, taking classes in building and carpenter architecture.  In 1991 he and his brother started their own carpentry business.

Then in September 2009, Rich fell off a roof, shattering and breaking his back.  He spent the next 3 months in a body cast.  Defying the odds of his back healing, he was recovering well, except for his left foot which was also shattered.  After 12 surgeries, he was still unable to walk on that foot.  Not wanting to live on pain pills,  Rich decided to have a 13th surgery, this time to amputate.  In September 2012, three years after the accident, he became an RBKA – right leg below the knee amputee.

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Dick Traum – Achilles International Founder and Inspiration

In 1965, Dick Traum, 24, was filling his gas tank at a gas station when the car behind him jumped forward and crushed him between the 2 cars.  As a result of his injuries, his right leg had to be amputated.  In 1976,  Dick found himself out of shape and approaching middle age.  He decided to do something about it – he joined a YMCA and began running, small distances at first and building up to miles.  By the end of the year, he became the first amputee to successfully complete the New York City Marathon.

The experience brought a strong sense of achievement and self-esteem. In 1983,  Dick created the Achilles Track Club, now called Achilles International, to give that same life-changing experience to others with disabilities.

“Somehow, I wasn’t upset. When you lose a leg, there’s no ambiguity. You get an artificial leg and keep going.” (IMDb Mini Biography By: woodyanders)

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CAF Grant Program – Inspiring Athletes

Jim MacLaren

 

In 1985 Jim MacLaren, a standout football and lacrosse athlete at Yale, was hit by a bus while riding his motorcycle and his left leg below the knee had to be amputated.  Fueled by his competitive and athletic spirit, he recovered and went on to finish the Ironman Hawaii in 10 hours, 42 minutes.  Then, in 1993, during the Orange County Triathlon, he was struck by a van while on his bike, hit a signpost, and became a quadriplegic.  He went on to become a motivational speaker

Bob Babbitt, founder of Competitor Magazine, dedicated to triathlons, cycling and running and himself an Ironman competitor, met MacLaren during the Hawaii Ironman.  It was his first encounter with an athlete running on a prosthetic leg.  He was awestruck at the determination and perseverance of disabled athletes.  After MacLaren’s second accident, when he was bound to a wheelchair, Babbitt and some fellow athletics enthusiasts raised funds to purchase a van which MacLaren could drive with his hands.  They raised more than they needed and Babbitt and MacLaren founded the Challenged Athletes Foundation® to support other disabled athletes in their efforts to remain active.

Bob Babbitt

Babbitt’s belief is to stick with our big ideas, especially when they might seem impossible, and to seek out the experiences that will make an impact on your life and in your community.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation® provides universal access to physical activity and sport through global grant distributions, camps, clinics, mentoring and motivation. 

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Brooke Artesi – Hiking Inspiration

Brooke-Artesi-Shawangunk-Ridge-TrailHiking has been a passion for Brooke Artesi for over 15 years – ever since her boyfriend (now husband ) Steve took her to the Bear Mountain portion of the Appalachian Trail.  She fell in love with the exhilaration of the hike and the welcoming shelters along the way.  In 2015, Brooke completed the 20 mile AT hike on the Shawangunk Trail  in less than 8 hours, fast walking all the way.  Her ultimate goal is to someday complete the entire trail – all 2,166 miles through 13 states!  In the meantime, she hikes as often as possible, being a mother of 2, wife, and owner/Chief Prosthetist & Orthotist of Sunshine Prosthetics and Orthotics in Wayne NJ.

Brooke has been a right leg below the knee amputee since the age of 15, due to a train accident. Hiking was a challenge which she soon mastered.  Having her first son, Nicco, didn’t stop her. While she was home with Nicco, she joined a group called Baby and Me Hike and carried him in a back carrier on every Tuesday hike.

AN INTERVIEW WTH BROOKE

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