They’ve lost limbs, but not their drive for life. Dozens from the Coachella Valley, and other surrounding areas, with physical disabilities gathered today for Limb Loss Education Day at the Desert Recreation Center in Palm Desert.
The event, sponsored by the Amputee Coalition, a non-profit, brings the one-day program to communities throughout the country. Judy May, the Regional Director of Incight in Palm Desert, partnered with the organization and helped coordinate the event here in the desert.
“It’s a fantastic event, bringing local amputees, as well as out of areas amputees together to be educated on things that affect their life, change their life, engage them, re-engage them,” May said.
Limb Loss Education Day provided activities, educational seminars, interaction between support groups, and vendors that helped build a sense of community for the amputees.
“This kind of event in the desert is critical. We don’t have a lot of resources for people with amputations, spinal cord injuries and Incight’s been creating those opportunities,” May said.
Bill Gorman, drove from Loma Linda to take part in the event. In July of 2002, he lost his leg due to a staph infection.
“I knew it was going to have to go at that point,” Gorman said, “It went septic throughout my body. So, I had slurred speech, I was losing my motor skills, I had a friend take me down to UCLA (hospital).
Gorman ended up on life support with complete kidney failure. The doctors told him there was no other choice.
“I had fought so hard to keep the leg. I refused to let them take the leg originally, so in the end, I lost, and that was a hard thing to swallow,” Gorman said.
But, after going through bone cancer and other health complications since he was a teenager, Gorman said he didn’t let this other “pebble” in the road get in the way.
“Many people think that once you’re an amputee, life is over. It’s different, you have to accept it, but it’s not over, life goes on,” he said.
Gorman said he hoped to find more information on a prosthetic leg at Limb Loss Education Day after hearing about it through an amputee connection in Redlands.
Just a few chairs from Gorman, sat Travis Ricks, a Senior Programs Manager with Challenge Athletes Foundation, an organization that helps anybody with a physical disability trying to get into a more active lifestyle through sports.
An athlete in high school, Ricks lost his leg to cancer 12 years. He said it was thanks to learning about programs such as the Challenge Athletes Foundation that helped change his life.
“Finding out that there’s a whole community of people like me that are actually living active lifestyle, even competitive changed my whole view of my situation and give me a new hope for life,” he said.
“Plus, they can talk to other amputees and see what they went through and then it’ll shorten their time to find the answers that they’re looking for,” Gorman said.
For more information on programs and resources for people in the community with physical disabilities