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Össur Welcomes 4 Paralympians And Celebrates Limb Loss Awareness Month With Dozens of Local School Children

Four Paralympians who are part of the #ÖssurFamily visited Össur offices in Foothill Ranch to commemorate April as national Limb Loss Awareness Month.

 

 

2016 Rio Paratriathlon Bronze Medalist Mohamed Lahna was joined by Team USA Sprinter Femita Ayanbeku and Long Jumper Trenten Merrill, and Team Canada Sprinter Marissa Papaconstantinou, at a special Limb Loss Awareness Month educational event at Woodbury Elementary School. There, the four athletes spoke to 75+ children who ranged from TK through grade 6, speaking about life with limb loss and limb difference.

According to the national Amputee Coalition, there are currently an estimated 2 million amputees in the U.S., and 500 people lose a limb every day. It is projected that the total population of people with limb loss and limb difference will more than double by the year 2050 to 3.6 million. Lower-limb amputations are far more common, with 71% being below-the-knee. Over half (54%) of amputations in the U.S. are due to circulatory disease, often a result of Diabetes and obesity, which is why the athletes emphasized the importance of staying healthy and active even as young children.

At Woodbury, the athletes shared their heartfelt stories while reflecting the school’s values of Respect, Compassion, Positive Mental Attitude and Perseverance.

In telling his story, Lahna said, “I was born with a birth defect that made me different from other kids but I learned to not let those differences keep me down. As a result, I gained their Respect, and learned to respect myself. Everyone is unique – we may all be different in some way -- but we are also all equal and valuable as human beings. Today, I try to treat everyone I meet with courtesy, dignity and respect for who they are.”

Merrill, who became an amputee at age 14, said “One year after my amputation, I was strong enough to play sports again, and I was excited about that, but I also felt Compassion for other people – for the first time, I appreciated how hard it could be for other amputees who are in situations like mine.”

Ayanbeku, who survived a car accident at age 11, received her first Össur running prosthesis at a 2015 Mobility Clinic and within one year, was setting sprinting records and representing the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Paralympics. “Sometimes people might feel sorry for me or think of me as ‘disabled’,” she said. “But no matter what others think or do, I keep a positive mental attitude, which helps me achieve my dreams. Hard work truly pays off, and if you are passionate and dedicated enough, anything is possible – you should never let anything or anyone stop you from having it.”

Papaconstantinou, who was born without a right foot, told the children “My parents encouraged me to try whatever I wanted without focusing on my physical differences.” She related a difficult moment when she tore a hamstring while racing at the 2017 World Championships. Despite falling, she got up and finished the race, as she said, “Perseverance helps me be strong even when things are hard... no matter what. I always focus on what you CAN do, not what you cannot.”

 

 

Following the presentations, the athletes engaged in a lively Q&A (which was captured on Facebook Live), then showed off their Össur prostheses while leading the children through a series of fun exercise drills. The day’s highlights included a fun relay race involving all of the kids followed by autograph-signing.). View image gallery here.

The event was covered by the Los Angeles Times and Spectrum News.

The inspiring morning left the children informed, appreciative of other-abled, and above all, more motivated than ever to continue living Life Without Limitations.