The London Summer Olympic Games start tonight and I felt it was time to talk about a great organization that helps people enjoy athletics who would otherwise be alienated from them.
Sports have been something to empower and excite me since I was an all star in my city softball league as a child in Florida. I then played tennis for over twenty years and became a city champion and went to regional competition in Texas. Now, I have begun running 5ks.
Frankly, I can’t imagine life without some form of exercise. I also couldn’t imagine life without a leg or arm, but every year 150,000 people join the ranks of over four million amputees in the U.S.
When you watch the superb athletes who compete in the Olympics these next few weeks, think of someone who has just lost a leg and doesn’t know how they will care for themselves or their families for the rest of their lives.
Trauma accidents, birth defects, motor vehicle accidents, and warfare are the primary causes of the loss of a limb. The Limbs for Life Foundation is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to providing prosthetic care for individuals who cannot otherwise afford it.
When a person becomes an amputee, they are faced with staggering emotional and financial lifestyle changes. The nationwide average for an above-knee prosthesis is $16,500 and $7,000 for a below-knee prosthesis.
Limbs for Life helps an average of 230 people in the United States and 300 people overseas each year. Since the foundation began in 1995, it has helped over 7,700 amputees obtain the prosthetic care that enabled them to move forward with their lives.
Limbs for Life collects and distributes used limbs, free of charge, to amputees in developing countries.
You may have heard of the Special Olympics, but do you know what the Paralympic Games are? They are happening in London just two and a half weeks after the Olympics summer games are over.
Then athletes who deal with the loss of limbs or other physical disability compete on their own terms as they have since 1960. The Agitos Foundation develops sport opportunities for people with disabilities around the world.
The Paralympic values of courage, determination, equality and inspiration help equip those with disabilities to deal with the problems of their daily lives. The Paralympic Games also give them a hint of what people with disabilities can do thus encouraging both them and others to see the potential in people with disability.
I encourage you this year to watch the Paralympics after the Olympic games are over. They will be the biggest Paralympic Games ever, featuring 4,200 athletes from 160 countries who will compete in 20 sports.
They have already taken the contestants to places beyond where most would imagine. Where will they take you?