Many of us take our arms and legs for granted until we injure one. We ache and moan — inconvenienced and frustrated — until it heals, and then we promptly forget again how much we rely on our extremities.
Amputees don’t have that luxury.
Life without a limb requires effort and equipment and, not infrequently, tremendous expense.
To raise awareness and support for Oklahoma amputees, Limbs for Life and Oklahoma City’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center have combined two respective annual gatherings, the Blaze 5K and the Welcome Home Celebration, into one big event.
“Joining forces with the VA Medical Center helps unite the community of amputees from both our groups,” said Lucy Fraser, Limbs for Life executive director. “The circumstances surrounding an amputation may vary, but the stage of rehabilitation [looks similar].”
The combined event begins with Limbs for Life’s Blaze 5K. The one-mile fun run starts at the Chesapeake Boathouse and winds through downtown. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization.
“Most people have no idea how expensive prosthetics can be,” said Josh DeLozier, Limbs For Life director of marketing and special events. “Parts wear out. If you’re a child, you grow out of your prosthetic multiple times in your life span. Some people just don’t have the financial means to keep up with it.”
James Stuck, a Blaze 5K participant, lost his leg during military service.
“I’m very active, so I wear through my prosthetics quickly, but I have access to proper resources,” he said. “For people not in the military, they can run into big problems.
There’s no easy way to lose a limb, but unfortunately, for most people outside the military umbrella, they have to fight and scrape.”
The Blaze 5K race is just one part of the day’s events. The Welcome Home Celebration is designed to help all post-9/11 veterans learn more about available VA benefits and services and give the public a chance to show support for vets.
The event will include food, music, entertainment and family-friendly activities.
“This event gives us the opportunity to remind our newest generation of heroes that we’re here to provide them with the quality health care they deserve,” said Michele Diesselhorst-Reese of OKC’s VA Medical Center.