Attempting a 26-mile marathon on crutches seems like a nearly impossible task, but for social media influencer Alex Parra the challenge was well worth the pain. Testing the limits of how far his body would go, the 22-year-old’s participation in the 2023 San Francisco Marathon was meant to spark a conversation about the very real barrier disabled athletes face in accessing prosthetics. “I wanted to do a marathon on crutches to kind of represent what I don’t have access to,” Alex said. “And to see what I can push myself to do.” Daniel Wu reported on Alex’s incredible story in the Washington Post.
Alex was just 15 years old when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma leading to the decision to amputate his left leg above the knee on December 1, 2016. The main reason he elected for amputation over a knee replacement was the former would allow him to be active again, but he wasn’t aware of the hefty price tag. $35,000 to be exact. This is how much Alex was told it would cost to get a running blade while insurance only covered a wheelchair and walking prosthesis.
With the help of a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Alex was able to get the prosthesis he needed in 2017, but he realized many amputees are not as fortunate. Leveraging the reach of his platforms on TikTok and Instagram, Alex decided to compete in the marathon to raise money and awareness about the high costs disabled athlete like him face.
He even documented the race on his YouTube channel and with grit, determination, and his trademark smile, made it more than halfway for a total of 16 miles on crutches. His efforts also raised $2,500 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Although he didn’t reach the finish line, his ambitious attempt had the intended effect. “I still accomplished something that I never thought I would be able to do,” Alex said in the article.
With groundbreaking bills ‘So Kids Can Move’ and ‘So Every Body Can Move’ gaining traction across the country, this is an opportune time to advocate for prosthetics for physical activity.
Energized by the support he received, this won’t be the last marathon Alex plans to participate in as he continues to raise awareness and be a strong advocate for the community.
Follow Alex on Instagram and TikTok (@alex1leg) and subscribe to his YouTube channel (Alex1Leg) for more videos about life as an amputee.