Santa Claus made an early appearance when he made a surprise visit to 6-year-old advocate Hope Burnett during a prosthetic appointment at Hanger Clinic in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Daniel Zuniga covered the story for the Rio Rancho Observer.
Santa, otherwise known as Doug Wacker, is a prosthetist at Hanger Clinic. “They helped me with my prosthetic, so it was kind of funny to see Santa,” Hope said. “He [Santa Claus] gave me some candy, an airplane to build, some pencils, a bear and sunglasses.” Hope is a congenital amputee and was born without her right leg at the hip.
“When she was asked what she wanted for Christmas, Hope mentioned that she was hoping for Furbies and to have a running leg. We shall see what happens,” said Gabe Brodehl, Hope’s clinician and clinic manager.
Even at 6-years-old, Hope was instrumental in helping get House Bill 131 passed in New Mexico when she testified in April 2023 about the importance of having access to activity-specific prosthetics. The bill which is part of the So Every BODY Can Move campaign will go into effect January 2024 and will cover a second orthotic or prosthetic device for physical activity.
“I want a running leg so I can catch up with my friends at school … and so I can run fast with my friends,” Hope said.
Learn more about So Every BODY Can Move on AOPA’s website and follow the legislative movement’s progress on Instagram (@soeverybodycanmove).