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THE POWER OF YOU: Reflections

By Ana‑Maria Gutierrez

For Luis De Leon, attending Amputee Coalition’s National Conference has been a transformational experience. Today, he proudly volunteers his time, as a champion and mentor, to the amputee community. But his journey did not begin here. He recounts his first experience attending conference as a pivotal moment in his life.

On a rainy morning, more than 12 years ago, Luis was headed to work. That morning, his life changed forever. After a catastrophic accident on the freeway, he faced devastating news that his left leg must be amputated. The months that followed were difficult due to the emotional trauma that overwhelmed him. He fell into a deep depression and wanted to give up on life.

That year, the Amputee Coalition held National Conference in California. He had heard about the event, but he was hesitant to attend. After his family’s insistence, he finally decided that he would participate.

Luis says that he will be “forever thankful” to have attended. “Going to conference saved my life. It changed how I looked at life.” He had a transformational experience after meeting others who live with similar challenges. That day he was able to gain new perspectives and completely change his mindset.

Luis walked into the venue with the aid of hand crutches but after taking a mobility clinic with Bob Dailey, he no longer felt the need to rely on them. The experience had a profound impact on his confidence and at that moment he knew he was going to be fine and most importantly, was not alone.

At the conference, he was introduced to his support group, Amputee Connections of Redland and has been with them ever since. Today, he works as a peer visitor and a support group leader for the Amputee Coalition. For Luis, it’s a proud moment to know that he is helping others by giving the support he did not receive during his trauma and credits the Amputee Coalition National Conference for empowering him to step into this role.

Cathy Devine, a first-time attendee at last year’s virtual conference, shares a similar experience. Cathy underwent a recent toe amputation. She was struggling with the validity of her feelings, as in her mind, it was just a toe. She learned about the Amputee Coalition and the conference and registered to attend.

Although she participated virtually, Cathy is so grateful for having the opportunity to meet so many people in the community. The conference was a way to connect with an added support system of friends that she holds dear.

She shares that the event helped her gain inspiration and build confidence in herself. Today, she is doing things that she never imagined that she could do. During the event, Cathy met her mentor who has helped support her on this new journey. Cathy now serves as an advocate for the community. She is leading a new non-profit as president of the board. She is also volunteering for various committees to help others like her.

The Amputee Coalition is excited to bring together the limb loss and limb difference community in Palm Desert, CA on August 10-13, 2022. Take advantage of the unique opportunity to grow your network of support, learn about new resources, and engage with vendors about innovative prosthetic devices and other technologies. Let National Conference become a transformational experience for you too!