The theme of this issue is “DREAM,” and it couldn’t be more fitting, because no matter how much members of our community overcome, regardless of the challenges faced, there is a continuous inspiration to reach for our dreams. The limb loss and limb difference community embodies human strength, unmatched and unwavering determination and the pursuit of DREAMS.
For many organizations like the Amputee Coalition, the daily work in disability rights throughout our nation keeps us awake at night, from the tireless work for equity and fairness for all to making life-altering system changes that will trickle to create future generational change. These are the dreamers we are dedicated to partnering with, working with and continuing to DREAM bigger, DREAM smarter and DREAM of a world where our community thrives. Today, the National Limb Loss Resource Center’s services include providing referral information and publications on limb loss, support groups and certified peer visitors; partnering with hospitals and rehabilitation facilities; promoting self-advocacy within the community; and maintaining a nationwide network of volunteer grassroots advocates for legislation that supports the limb loss and limb difference community.
As the independent, unbiased, evidence-based voice of our community, we work to improve care through advocacy, education, support and prevention. The community engagement program recognizes the challenges of recovering from a traumatic event such as losing a limb or learning that your child will be born with limb loss. The program has 125 hospital partners representing 35 states, 400-plus affiliated support groups and 700-plus active certified peer visitors across the country offering emotional support and information vital for a full recovery.
The Youth and Workforce Development program is designed to assist participants (youth ages 15-17, adults and veterans) within the community with career exploration, transitioning back into the workforce or starting their journey into the workforce. We are daring to DREAM. As we look back at the 2023 ELEVATE National Conference, we see what DREAMS can do to inspire after we welcomed just under 1,000 community members in person in Orlando, Florida. The National Conference is dedicated to creating space for lead advocate training, continuing education, adaptive sports clinics, deeper dive sessions featuring experts and thought leaders, on-site prosthesis evaluation clinics and priceless in-person connection to the limb loss and limb difference community.
The conference kicked off with above-knee amputee, Paralympic gold and silver medalist snowboarder and adaptive sports innovator Mike Schultz as the opening speaker. The same encouragement, hope and determination to DREAM continued with the closing speaker, Amy Purdy, who is a double below-knee amputee, founder of Adaptive Action Sports, New York Times best-selling writer, motivational keynote and three-time Paralympic snowboarding medalist.
The YEP Youth Camp was a great success as youth were enveloped in a variety of workshops, talks with special guest athletes, and a captivating and engaging keynote from the Amputee Coalition board chair, Paralympian and professional speaker John Register. Special guests at this year’s camp kickoff included Hanger Clinic’s Cameron Clapp and Shima Nixon, along with U.S. Men’s National Amputee Soccer Team forward Jovan Booker and professional BMX bike rider Julian Molina of GT Bikes.
Gary Weiland captivated YEP Youth with his fearless story of adapting and overcoming, instilling the value that anything is possible when you set your mind to achieving it. YEP youth campers attended the NONA Adventure Park, and the camp was capped off with a trip to SeaWorld.
As we move forward together, we know partnership is at the heart of the work we are committed to. Thank you for your support, partnership and willingness to work together to continue to DREAM and create a community that thrives. Please stay up to date at www.amputee-coalition.org.
Amputee Coalition President and CEO