Campaign Showcases People Who Have Adapted and Thrived
By Mike Crist Editor
The Amputee Coalition has a special celebration happening in April, which is Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month.
It comes in the form of a public service announcement campaign that spotlights six well-known members of the limb loss and limb difference community who have adapted and thrived. Each shows how to INSPIRE TO ELEVATE.
Our all-star lineup includes a Hollywood writer, an actor, athletes, a firefighter, and the executive chair of our board of directors.
The national campaign, produced in partnership with Lemonlight, will help us reach new audiences who are seeking information on limb loss to provide a path for them to gain knowledge and support from our trusted organization. The three 30-second and two 15-second spots will raise awareness of our mission of support, education, and advocacy.
The PSAs are scheduled to broadcast on Amazon, online streaming services, stations in major TV markets in the U.S., and social media in the coming months. Watch the PSA videos at www.InspireToElevate.org. Follow and join the #InspireToElevate movement. Learn more about the Amputee Coalition at www.amputee-coalition.org.
Let’s introduce you to the people featured in the PSA campaign.
Femita Ayanbeku is a sprinter in international track and field, a two-time Paralympian, and a world championships bronze medalist. She set an American record in the 100 meters during the Paralympic Trials in 2021.
The Boston native underwent below-knee amputation on her right leg after she was thrown from the car during a crash when she was 11 years old.
Femita was profiled in an article in inMotion magazine last year.
“My goal on a daily basis is to make sure people see my prosthetic leg,” she said. “I want them to see my confidence and to be able to take that for themselves.”
Zyra Gorecki stars as Izzy Harris on the NBC science-fiction drama “La Brea” and is one of the first people with limb loss or limb difference to be a regular on a network television show.
Zyra began her career as a model, and her other television credits include “Chicago Fire” and “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”
She underwent below-knee amputation of her left leg after a logging accident when she was a teenager.
“To be a person that other amputees [and] other limb-different people can look up to and say, ‘I can do that, I can do this, I can achieve my dreams,’ is a completely indescribable feeling,” she said in People magazine in 2021.
Jessica Heims is another two-time Paralympian and a true track-and-field athlete.
On the track, she finished fifth in the 400 meters at the 2015 world championships. In the field, in the same competition, she also placed fifth in the discus.
Jessica added another fifth-place showing in the discus at the most recent Paralympics in Tokyo.
She is also a graduate of the Amputee Coalition Youth Camp. After being born with amniotic band syndrome, she underwent below-knee amputation on her left leg when she was 1 year old.
John Register is a Paralympic silver medalist in track and field and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War. He recently assumed the post of chairman of our board of directors after serving as acting president and CEO of the Amputee Coalition.
John set an American record in the long jump when he won a silver medal in the 2000 Sydney Paralympics. He finished fifth in the 100 and 200 meters at those games.
An All-America performer in track at the University of Arkansas before serving in the Army, John aspired to compete in the 1996 Olympics before an accident over a hurdle in training led to amputation of his left leg.
Brandon Sonnier is a writer and television producer who created the series “L.A.’s Finest,” a spinoff of the “Bad Boys” movie franchise. He served as executive story editor on the Emmy Award-winning show “The Blacklist” and just last year wrote an episode of “S.W.A.T.”
Brandon underwent below-knee amputation of his right leg after he was injured on the set of “L.A.’s Finest.” He was struck while watching a vehicle stunt scene being filmed.
“I hold on to my sense of purpose, which helps me with the feeling of loss that comes from an amputation,” he said in an inMotion profile. “Although it’s a challenge, I reframe my thinking to focus on the things I get to do.”
Gary Weiland lives by the motto “Adapt and Overcome,” which he has turned into a brand. He returned to full duty as a firefighter less than a year after undergoing below-knee amputation of his left leg.
Last year he appeared on “American Ninja Warrior,” and he is featured in the documentary “Becoming the Ultimate Ninja.” Gary is also a children’s book author and a motivational speaker.
“I am quite busy, but I don’t want to take one second of this life for granted,” Gary wrote when he told his story on our #WeTHRIVE blog. “I truly believe that you can do anything you put your mind to.”