To celebrate Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month (LLLDAM), we wanted to know who inspired you to elevate yourself! Members of the limb loss and limb difference community (including family, friends, and clinicians), submitted fellow community members who embodied the Amputee Coalition’s 2023 theme “Inspire to Elevate,” for a chance to be featured on Hanger Clinic’s Recognition Board.

Recognitions came in nationwide and included friends whose passion for adaptive sports encouraged them to try something new, family members, prosthetics patients, and amputee peer mentors. May their recognition inspire you to elevate too.

Recognition Board

Recognizing Jason Malvar

“Jason is a relatively new below‐knee amputee and in the past three years he has accomplished so many things. He has managed his daily life by returning to work and continuing to be a family man. He has also returned to many of the sports he loved prior to his accident including riding bikes, running, volleyball, snowboarding and hiking. Jason is a huge inspiration to everyone he meets on a daily basis.”

Submitted by: Stephen Tregoning

Recognizing Cheryl Freede

“Cheryl’s strength and tenacity inspire me to be a better man. She is such an inspiration that even her own family dedicates their time, at least twice a week that I know of, to join our Zoom Meetings to support her (and everyone else). She is a pillar to our community of amputees.”

Submitted by: Dave Gibson

Recognizing Sara Lucio Paredes

“In 2021, I found myself in Ecuador, climbing Cotopaxi, to help raise funds for ROMP Global, but I got altitude sickness and wasn’t able to make it up all the way. Through my time in Ecuador, I met Sara Lucio Paredes who is an amputee from Ecuador and a fellow ROMP climber. I enjoyed getting to know her and seeing how she pushed through the tough stuff to summit brings a smile to my face. Past the climb, Sara has volunteered alongside ROMP to help fellow amputees. I believe she’s probably become a personal hero and friend to those amputees she’s helped because that’s just who she is. The amputee community being able to come together to make friendships happen worldwide is a neat thing!”

Submitted by: Christopher Rains

Recognizing Elisha Nelson

“Elisha Nelson is a person whom I have had the pleasure of sharing my passion for water sports with the past year and a half. We both compete in the competitive and skill-driven sport of three-event waterskiing, and her mentorship has helped me grow as a uniquely challenged athlete. This is a challenge which we share, and practicing with Elisha has shifted my perspective of how I must improve my technique, and maintain a healthy competitive mindset given the unique challenges we face. Elisha continues to be a source of strength for me, and a reminder that the way we face competitive improvement may be different, but nonetheless makes us fierce competitors spawning from our determination and tireless effort.”

Submitted by: Kyle Vaughn

Recognizing Johnny Rocco Vacca

“Johnny V introduced me to countless adaptive sports, adaptive programs and amazing, talented people. He always brings positive inspiration and energy to all the events he attends. His battle to overcome limb loss and become a greater person because of it, has been, and always will be, a true source of inspiration for me.”

Submitted by: Rome Leykin

Recognizing Jarred Brotherton

“My husband, Jarred, is the person who most inspires me to elevate! As a person born with limb differences resulting in amputation, there have been many things I thought were only a dream for someone like me. My husband takes every dream and finds a way to make it a reality. From catching giant halibut in Alaska, to exploring the Grand Canyon, or just encouraging me to push a little harder to reach my goals ‐ he is my driving force. He is my biggest cheerleader, greatest support system, and the most inspiring person in my life. He takes my challenges as his own and does so without ever making me feel like a burden. He is my inspiration.”

Submitted by: Jessica Brotherton

Recognizing Shima Nixon

“Shima Nixon is the smartest amputee I’ve ever met and she’s also in school to become a prosthetist. Shima staying true to her vision has taught me to stay true to mine. Her attitude to work, work ethic and motivation is resilient. Her success is a great inspiration to me. Thank you for being an inspirational person, Shima!”

Submitted by: Elmer Sanchez Hayes

Recognizing Juan Carlos Vargas Andrade

“Juan es luchador, ama a Dios, es persistente, inspirador y ama la vida.”

Juan is a fighter, loves God, is persistent, inspiring, and loves life.

Recognizing Sadie Obana

“Sadie is a 10‐year‐old rock star who inspires me to keep helping people live their best life! She models, sings, dances and is the epitome of elevating yourself above your circumstances. I was featured in People Magazine, which is cool, but seeing Sadie hold the magazine up so proudly, that will forever be my favorite picture and memory.”

Submitted by: Chris Ruden

Recognizing Elmer Sanchez Hayes

“Elmer became an amputee through a traumatic accident. He has NOT let that stop him. He just recently began running again after 5 years. He’s such an inspiration for all to get back moving no matter how long it takes. Take the first step. I’M PROUD OF YOU, ELMER!”

Submitted by: Shima Nixon

Recognizing Sean Harrison (1966-2022)

“Sean Harrison came to visit me when I became an amputee in May of 2019. He became my peer mentor and after two years, I got certified to do the same as him. He was my go‐to for support in my new life and to share tips and ways to adapt as an amputee. We shared a special day, my amputee date was his birthday as well.”

Submitted by: Alex Gomez

Recognizing Kim Michele Mlynski-Carlson

“I met Kim at the 2019 Amputee Coalition Conference and she told me about her life-threatening challenges and the things she has overcome. I could not be happier for her. Kim inspires me every day in the things she does – from learning to ride her bike again, to gardening, to going to vintage fairs, and doing projects on her circuit machine, Kim has a huge heart and goes above and beyond to help anyone ‐ not just people who are amputees. That is why I love her so much and in July of 2021 we got married.”

Submitted by: Tom Carlson

Recognizing Allie Johnson

“Allie Johnson has never let her limb difference hold her back! As a member of the US Paralympic Alpine Team, she strives daily to prove that no one has limitations and everyone can reach their dreams with hard work. Allie motivates everyone around her with that constant smile to live life to its fullest every day!”

Submitted by: Laurie Johnson

Recognizing Roderick Sewell Jackson

“Roderick has inspired me to elevate since we were kids. Seeing someone that looked just like me and had the same exact condition I had gave me confidence to know I wasn’t alone. Then to see both of us going to CAF events, racing each other in our running legs, seeing who could walk faster, etc. It was very inspiring to have a big brother that new exactly what I was going through with my legs and also being a black man. Roderick has taught me so much in life and our friendship has meant the world to me! Roderick is my big brother and my inspiration. He is Mr. Ironman!”

Submitted by: Hasaan Hawthorne

Recognizing Ruby Jennino

“Ruby Jennino has a “little arm” since birth. She is 9 years old. I am a senior who had RBKA after sepsis and choosing life in February 2023. Ruby has been a ray of sunshine in this dark time. She encouraged me that I could move on to a normal healthy life. Recognizing the differences in our similarities, she adeptly made me homemade cards of encouragement that I will always cherish.”

Submitted by: Dean Paddock

Recognizing Calder Hodge

“Calder Hodge never gives up. He set a goal when he was little to be the first double amputee QB to play college football. This fall he will play at Tyler Junior College.”

Submitted by: Kayla Hodge

Recognizing Rome Leykin

“I met Rome at the 2022 EmpowerFest where I was leading a running clinic. He was extremely outgoing and threw himself into all the activities. I have remained in contact with him and he’s coming to his first trail run with me next month in Los Olivos, CA.”

Submitted by: Zach Friedley

Recognizing Pedro Pimenta

“Pedro is a master of adaptability and perseverance. Despite losing all four limbs from meningitis, Pedro’s physical
challenges as a quadruple amputee didn’t prevent him from continuing his journey of resilience and independence as he’s epitomized through his recovery and return to living life. From a successful rehabilitation to achieving a bachelor’s degree, and marrying his dream girl, Pedro has not only inspired me to elevate my perception of what’s possible with prosthetics and my education, as I’ve returned to college and graduated university, but also in relationships with partnership as I might just follow in his footsteps to marry my dream girl too.”

Submitted by: Cameron Clapp

Recognizing Matthew Brewer

“Matthew Brewer has faced life‐threatening challenges and has come out on the other side stronger than ever. Now a Paralympic alpine skier, Matt continues to be a great role model to look up to for inspiration. He inspires me to elevate in all I do.”

Submitted by: Lera Doederlein

Recognizing Yvonne Llanes

“Yvonne Llanes and I connected on so many levels as limb loss gals and in our personal lives as mothers, wives, and shared cultural backgrounds. She’s one amazing athlete on top of that.
She inspires me through her grace, determination, strength, persistence, and love of life.”

Submitted by: Norma Trujillo 

Recognizing Yvonne Llanes

“Yvonne Llanes is a kind, caring, and selfless woman. Her positive energy and
pure heart radiates and uplifts everyone around her. She has inspired me to keep fighting, to keep providing support to others in the midst of my own hardships, and to be proud in my metal ‐ with bling of course! She is one of the strongest women I know. I’m so grateful to know her and I’m proud to call her my friend.”

Submitted by: Marina Nakhla 

Recognizing Rudy Garcia‐Tolson

“Rudy was one of the first adult mentors I met with the same limb difference as
me. When I was around seven, I was introduced to Rudy Garcia‐Tolson at the CAF Tri in San Diego. From the start, I watched Rudy and there was nothing that stopped him. I saw him run and swim; his perseverance lit my face. That was the day I wanted to be just like Rudy. Nothing stopped him, and nothing was going to. I wanted to have that same outlook in life.

Not only has he helped me achieve that, but he gave me a model on how to mentor other kids now that I am of the age to give back to the community. To this day, Rudy still pushes me to be the best person I can be. Rudy Garcia‐Tolson is truly an inspiration to not only me but to all.”

Submitted by: Cameron Lutges

For any questions, please reach out to [email protected]. To learn more about the Amputee Coalition and other ways to get involved during LLLDAM, visit the resources page.

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