Monday, February 25, 2013

Amputees, Copeland and Maynard finally meet

GWINNETT COUNTY, GA-- As the wheelchairs move toward one another you see instant smiles and flashes of recognition on the faces of Aimee Copeland and Kyle Maynard. The two have a lot in common and have heard stories of one another, but this is their first time meeting. The smiles are followed by a hug. Two amputees with very different stories of how they arrived to this day. Last year, Aimee Copeland contracted a rare flesh eating bacteria while zip-lining with friends. To save her life, doctors had to amputate both feet, a leg and her hands. Kyle Maynard is a congenital amputee who was born with only portions of his arms and legs. A former wrestler and mixed martial artist, he's also a motivational speaker who just finished climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. He spent ten days bear crawling to the summit. Copeland has long wanted to meet Maynard, so when he was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Gwinnett Medical Center Foundation's Gala organizers invited Copeland to the event. Before the gala began, Copeland and Maynard met in a side room for an interview with 11 Alive News. Reporter Duffie Dixon said her job was easy--with one question the two began an instant conversation about what they most admire about each other and what they'd like to see for others like them in the future. "I see us working together to come up with ways to make things more accessible, Its just a matter of figuring out things no one has thought of before," said Maynard. Copeland said seeing what Maynard has accomplished by hiking Kilimanjaro, she hopes to someday return to the hiking and kayaking she loved before she lost her limbs. "I think nature has a lot to offer in healing people. I want everyone to be able to get out on trails and rivers and experience what I have," said Copeland. Maynard said he was inspired by Copeland's positive outlook saying she has not let her accident define her. She was quick to say the same about him.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Local program helps teen amputees learn to ski

PARK CITY — Park City Mountain Resort joined Shriners Hospital for Children to give young amputees a chance to ski Utah's famous slopes. The Un-Limb-ited Ski and Snowboard Camp is an annual event that allows dozens of teens from around the world to work on and showcase their skiing abilities. "I love to ski," said Kristine Littlefield, a 13-year-old participant from Centerville. "It's one of my favorite things to do in the winter. I do diamond runs all the time." Like Littlefield, participants receive professional instruction to learn adapted skiing and snowboarding, and it's at no cost. Those who want to attend simply submit an essay to be considered for a spot at the camp, according to their website. The camp accommodates skiers of all levels of expertise. While Littlefield is a veteran for her age, Roy resident Todd Michaels skied for the first time at the camp. It's a pretty awesome opportunity for me and them to be up there on the mountain, having a good time and not having to think about being an amputee. There are some things we can do and some things we can't do, and this is something we can all do pretty well. –Kevin Clark, Shriners Hospital for Children "I started two days ago, so I'm still on the first time, but it's really fun," he said. "I played soccer for about seven years, played football for two years, and snowboarding is much better than both those combined. It's just awesome, the thrill of the mountain and everything." The camp is a place where teens like Michaels and Littlefield can break barriers and not have to think about being an amputee, said Kevin Clark, who works for Shriners and is helping with the camp. "The first day they're usually pretty timid, kind of shy and don't want to get out there and explore too much," he said. "But by day two or three, they're blending in with the group, going down the mountain as fast as they can and they're having a great time." However, it's not just a life changing opportunity for the kids, but for the adults working with them to teach them how to ski as well. "It's a pretty awesome opportunity for me and them to be up there on the mountain, having a good time and not having to think about being an amputee," he said. "There are some things we can do and some things we can't do, and this is something we can all do pretty well."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Phoenix amputee's road to recovery leads to running

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Thousands of runners will converge on Tempe this weekend for the 10th annual P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. One woman may be an inspiration to others as she runs the half-marathon -- double-below knee amputee Jami Goldman-Marseilles. The 43-year-old Paralympian, who grew up in the Valley, survived a blizzard 25 years ago at the cost of her feet. "I was driving home to Phoenix from New Mexico, and wound up taking a wrong turn and getting lost," she said. "My girlfriend Lisa (Barzano) and I lived in our car for 11 days." The pair were near the Sunrise ski resort in the White Mountains in late December 1987. The road was supposed to be closed for the winter, but Goldman-Marseilles said it was open when she started driving on it. Because the road was closed, neither family nor police searched there. The young women drank melted snow to stay alive while their extremities were being devastated by frostbite. The two were rescued Jan. 2, 1988, found by a man and his son on a snowmobile. Barzano lost several toes to gangrene. For Goldman-Marseilles, the news would be worse. "After about two weeks, doctors started talking about amputation (of her feet)," she said. Shortly after surgery, Goldman-Marseilles said doctors told her it was important that she get some exercise. She worked hard, and later was inspired by the 1996 Paralympics. "I saw video of these incredible athletes running on these crazy looking (prosthetic) legs called the 'Cheetah Legs.' " Those artificial legs are designed to help amputees with sprinting. Goldman-Marseilles wears a version geared more for long-distance running. The married mother of two, who lives in Southern California, has traveled all over the world telling her story. She has run in three half-marathons. Goldman-Marseilles is not the only physically challenged person who will be running this weekend. "The people who will go the fastest on Sunday will be in wheelchairs out front," said race co-founder Tracy Sundlin. "They are 13 men, that if they have a bad day, will do the race in about 1 hour, 45 minutes. They'll go 4 minutes a mile for 26.2 miles." Like those men, Goldman-Marseilles, refuses to let her physical challenges hold her back. "I've learned over the past 25 years that we need to look at challenges and limitations as blessings," Goldman-Marseilles said. "They can be used to inspire our imaginations and push our body to amazing opportunity." She believes that everyone faces challenges and limitations in life, and offers this suggestion: "Use that adversity that you were given … and run with it." That's what she'll be doing on Sunday.