Amputee Camps are Awesome!

Summer time means free time and fun time! For many children, they are off to camp, where they get to do a variety of things they don’t get to do the rest of the year. Who doesn’t love swimming, boating, archery, giggling in a tent all night with your friends, s’mores, ghost stories and songs around the camp fire, hikes in the woods, and of course, fun camp games.

Summer camps are an excellent way for kids to enjoy the summer and have fun! Amputee camps are a safe place for kids to learn more about living with limb loss and limb difference. Amputee camps have evolved to resemble more traditional summer camps, complete with canoes and campfires. Most importantly, the focus is on the campers.

Traditional camps are a wonderful experience for kids. However, amputee children may feel overwhelmed in a “standard” camp. Attending a specialized camp for amputees may relieve some of the pressure and allow children be themselves, have fun and meet friends just like them.

Here are some great resources for finding the right amputee camp for your child:

Retreats, Camps & Recreational Programs for Amputation

Camp No Limits

Amputee Coalition – Youth Camp

Summer Camps for Amputee Kids

Letting your child grow up is hard for many parents, but it is important for to let your child grow and develop on their own. Camps are an excellent outlet for that!

Happy camping, campers! 😉

Endeavor Games 2019!

It’s been a week since I got back from the Endeavor Games 2019 that took place in Edmond, Oklahoma. If you don’t know what they are, then you are missing out! 😉 The Endeavor Games are competitions for athletes of all ages with physical disabilities. These games are great opportunities for athletes to display their talents in a proper and competitive setting against all individuals with similar disabilities.

This is Knit-Rite’s third year as a sponsor for the Endeavor Games, and I maintained a booth to display our products.  We introduced a few of our items to athletes who were competing, as well as their parents and friends.

Introducing our products, such as the pink prosthetic Soft Socks and SmartKnitKIDS seamless sensitivity socks, to parents of young athletes was satisfying, because I witnessed them recognizing that we are able to meet their child’s needs. We also had a few parents and kids who recognized our products and thanked Knit-Rite for our high quality socks. It is always rewarding to work for a company that makes quality products, as well as hearing it from others.

One of my favorite things at the Endeavor Games, was seeing a younger generation proudly competing while having the times of their lives! I’ve been to Endeavor Games for many years now, and it’s wonderful to see those younger kids grow up and maintain the positive spirit displayed at the games. It’s also great to catch up with everyone and see how their lives changed in the past year.

It was uplifting seeing everyone’s support while cheering each other on. Whether it’s a veteran swimming his first meet; a 2-year-old boy competing in his first wheelchair race; or even a young lady trying table tennis for the first time – each of these moments will be embedded in the memories I’ll always hold of the Endeavor Games 2019!

 It was another successful year full of positivity, hugs, smiles, encouragement, and most of all, no judgment! It was an honor to be there as Knit-Rite’s representative and introduce our amazing products to everyone. I already look forward to next year and making new memories, meeting new friends, and introducing even more people to Knit-Rite. …See you next year at the Endeavor Games 2020!

Let’s talk about legs . . . and feet – the little things!

When we hear the word amputee, the first thing that comes to our minds is usually that person is missing a limb (or maybe more).  Technically, that is correct! However – here’s a different perspective for you! I might be missing “real” legs, but I have several prosthetic legs. One set is for running, and one set is for walking! I even have an old set, kind of like an old pair of shoes. 😉 So technically, I have more legs than a “normal” person! Got you to think, right?

I often hear things like, “Oh, it must be fun to switch legs from running to walking and vice versa!” Nooo, not really! I wish I could just have legs that are “attached” to me, and I wouldn’t have to switch them between my activities, but I am not complaining. My prosthetic legs allow me to do things that I wouldn’t be able to do if I didn’t have these legs.  It’s all about perspective and appreciating the little things!

Speaking of little things. I recently got new prosthetic legs for walking. I bet you don’t hear that often! Lol! The new feet have “split toe.” Most “normal” people don’t think of it as a big deal, but let me tell you, it is. I was SOO happy for that little detail, because I can wear shoes with split toe. Don’t get me wrong, sandals with without split toe are cute, but the ones with split toe are wayyyy cuter! First world girl problems. 😉 So yeah, guess who already went shopping for a cute pair of split toe sandals? And, has new painted “toes”? This girl! Basically summer ready!

I wrote this blog is to remind you, as w ell as myself, to be grateful for the little things! What may be a small detail to you, might be a life changer for another person! It might make your day to buy an expensive pair of Gucci sandals, and for me, I am happy for a split toe in my new “feet”.

Perspective is a beautiful thing that challenges us to see this world from a different view! Look at your feet and be thankful for the natural split between your toes! 😉 I bet you have never been grateful for that before! #perspective

Things Amputees and People With Limb Differences Want You to Know

Around 2 million people in the United States are considered amputees. Each year 185,000 people undergo amputation surgery, according to the Amputee Coalition. No two situations are the same. A limb may be amputated because of an accident, injury, illness, or disease. Other limb differences are due to the way a person’s body formed in the womb, which is sometimes described as “congenital amputation.”

Here’s what I want everyone to understand about what our lives are really like.

Don’t lump the experiences of all people with a limb difference together.

Like any group of individuals who happen to share a specific characteristic, no two people with limb differences are the same. For example, the experiences of arm amputees are different from leg amputees. And, the experiences of congenital amputees are different than people who became amputees later in life.

Amputation can actually improve a person’s quality of life.

I know it’s hard to believe but it is true! There are some people that have very painful and debilitating conditions even though they have all of their limbs. For those people, having a limb amputated can actually restore their mobility and quality of life.

Don’t make assumptions about what amputees’ lives are like.

I often hear people say they wouldn’t be able to do the things I do if they were missing limbs themselves. So, you’re saying if you lost your legs right now, you’d have to lie in a bed for the rest of your life? Of course not! You would be able to figure it out and live with it. Don’t assume you know where I’ve come from or what I’ve gone through. Yes, physical differences do make life harder because the world wasn’t built for me, but everyone has challenges to deal with. Some of mine just happen to be visible. You could have had a way harder childhood than me. How would I know?

But most importantly of all, be comfortable around us! It’s okay to laugh with someone if they’re making a joke about their amputation or limb difference. If I’m laughing about it, you should laugh with me too because it’s probably hilarious! 😉

And in closing… how about an amputee joke! What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef! See, I am funny!

Knit-Rite Expands Into Animal Kingdom – Meet Moko, The Sheep!

Three years ago, Kristin Hartness and Jay Yontz, a North Carolina couple and animal advocates, followed their dream and found a non-profit named after their pet pig – Ziggy’s Refuge Farm Sanctuary – on their 85 acre historic farm. It’s full of love and magic because of the 62 rescued animals they have there. The majority of these animals having special needs – including many with prosthetics and braces. Moko, the sheep, is their most sensitive case!

Photo Courtesy of Kristin Hartness

Kristin rescued Moko and his sister Jumbie when they were only 12 weeks old. They had been told that there were two sheep that had suffered from frostbite, and needed a home with specialized care. When Kristin and Jay went to see them, Moko had already lost both back feet. Both sheep had als o lost the tips of their ears from frostbite. Kristin described what she saw as “the most angelic white ball of perfection.” 

Krisitn immediately took both sheep to the University of Tennessee for a complete examination, and they found that Moko has severe bone spurs in his back nubs. For Moko, this felt like walking on knives. After surgeries and prosthetics, Moko was still having issues with his back legs, so they decided to try out a wheelchair. It worked great until both of his front carpals collapsed. Now, the sweetest sheep on earth has four severely compromised legs. Moko now wears braces on his front legs and prosthetics on the back. 

Photo Courtesy of Kristin Hartness

Moko and Jumbie have lived inside the couple’s house since they brought them home. It was going to be temporary, but now Moko sleeps in the bed with them. “So, that’s the end of that story,” says Kristin. 

According to Kristin, Moko is a dreamboat and is the happiest most-loving creature they have ever encountered. They knew he deserved a chance, and they promised Moko that they would do anything in the world to give him the best life ever. Totally opposite of her brother Moko, sister Jumbie is wild and rebellious. For Krisitn and Jay, Moko and Jumbie are perfect companions.

Knit-Rite Soft socks have been game changers for Moko, as they add and subtract socks whenever there is swelling. The socks not only keep him comfortable from day to day, but also helped him heal when bandaging wouldn’t heal open wounds on his nubs. Knit-Rite socks were the only solution for him!

Photo Courtesy of Kristin Hartness

Even though our socks were designed with humans in mind, we are excited to know that our mission of improving lives extends to animal kingdom, as well! Thank you Kristin Hartness for sharing Moko’s story with us!

Cheers,

Get To Know Your Blogger

What are the top greatest moments of your life?

Getting my masters degree in English because I was always worried that I wouldn’t get an education due to my disability. The same goes for marrying my husband, running a marathon and finally, becoming a mommy to Mr. Gabriel!!

What is the last book you read? Did you like it? Do you recommend it to others? The last book that I read was Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. It is about a daughter spending the summer with her father, although she’d rather be at home in NY. The father tries to reconnect with his daughter, but the only thing they have in common is music— which finally allows them to connect! The story has a sad ending that makes you appreciate your family. I remember crying while reading this book! I LOOOVED it! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a heart-wrenching story!

Have you ever had a nickname? I have a few – Miss T or Tanyabelle! My American families started it.

What would you do if you won the lottery? Not to be too selfish, but I’d definitely pay off all my bills, and maybe buy a few fun things for myself. Then I’d help my families, of course. But finally, I’d start a Non-profit! I’ve always wanted to give back by helping other amputees who cannot afford prosthetic legs! The money would be a great start to my dream of giving back.

What is your favorite place that you’ve ever visited?

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I absolutely love to travel and wish I had the time and money to do more! My husband and I visited Virginia a few years ago and fell in love with the mountains! Oh, Tucson, Arizona is also gorgeous!

If you could change one thing in this world to positively impact people, what would it be?

IMG_4566.jpgStop seeing disability as a disease! Stop making a big deal about disability! I cannot wait until one day I walk into the store, and not one person stares at my legs with curiosity and call me an inspiration. Instead, they’ll focus on their own business and possibly compliment how cute my baby is. 🙂

What is one thing you will never do again? I used to think that I’d never run another marathon – now that sometime has passed, I want to run another marathon!! However, I never ever ever want to ride another rollercoaster, ever, as long as I live – never!

What is your favorite holiday? New Year! I miss celebrating it the way I grew up celebrating it. We cooked food all day, then stayed up all night, eating that food and celebrating the New Year! It was always a magical time for me!

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives? Everyone should definitely do something that truly challenges them to their limit, at least once in their life. For me, it was running a marathon. So I would suggest running a marathon, but maybe your super big challenge is something different.

What is something that you’ve never tried, but would like to? Okay, so this is cheesy… I’ve never had toes or feet, right? Well… I’ve always wanted to be a ballerina or a gymnast, because I absolutely love when toes are pointed out! Ha, weird, I know! Welcome to my world of no feet!

You’ve lived in more than one place. What place do you most call home? Definitely, Kansas City! That’s where I went to school, met my husband, where my American families live! It’s a great city! Though, I wouldn’t mind if Kansas City had a mountain or a beach. 😉 But Belarus will always hold a special place in my heart – that’s where I was born!

What was the best compliment you’ve ever received?

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As part of my mentoring experience with Girls on The Run, one of the young runners said that she’d like to be just like me when she grows up! Hopefully she keeps both of her legs! 😉 All jokes aside, it’s nice to be recognized as a runner and not a girl with prosthetic legs!

What would you want your epitaph to be? I want people to remember me for my smile and how smiley I am! Smiles show you are happy and I am!

If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what rule would you make? Please wash your hands after you go potty – germs are everywhere! Mic drop!

What are your top 2 favorite smells? Gasoline and the smell of new books! But not at the same time!

If your life was a book, what is the name of the chapter you’re currently in?Sleep is for the weak!” Newborn problems!

What have you created that you’re most proud of?

Most definitely, Gabriel John Trimborn!

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What is the best lesson learned from your parents? My birth family was always hard on me – I definitely owe them for my stubbornness and persistence. My American families thought me to give back because they always helped me and their love and generosity was evident in their everyday lives.

Now that you’ve run a marathon and become a mom, what is the next big challenge you would like to achieve? Raise a well-adjusted son who is funny, kind, smart, companionate and successful! Write a book about my life. Compete in a full Ironman! Run the Boston Marathon. And, get a full, relaxed, non-disrupted night’s sleep! Gabe, let’s work on that last challenge tonight – no pressure, bud!

What is your biggest fear? Snakes – ewww.

 

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May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

This month is an excellent reminder that while we focus on our physical wellbeing, we can’t forget to take care of our mental health, whether we are an amputee or not.

However, losing a limb is a huge toll on our mental health, because it challenges us physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, financially, and may temporarily alter one’s ability to think clearly. Obviously, emotional responses to amputation are different for each individual. It is common to feel a sense of grief and loss. How people respond to their amputation depends upon their unique make-up, such as personality, values, attitudes, previous life experiences, support systems including family, and the meaning they give to their amputations.

But emotional struggles are absolutely a normal part of any person’s life. The main thing is to realize that you don’t have to deal with them alone. Talk with family and friends, a counselor, or support group about your feelings. Finding others who have gone through a similar experience may help you realize what’s possible. Spiritual support may also help you, whether from church leaders, members, or just taking your own time to reflect.

If you feel signs of depression, such as lack of motivation, loss of interest in things you once cared about, or ongoing grief or sadness, talk to your therapist or counselor. The earlier you get help, the sooner you’ll feel better and can continue recovering, and enjoying life.

Loving yourself is the first step to emotional wellbeing. We all struggle, but we all also have something unique to add to this challenging yet incredible world.

Take care of yourself and your mental health.

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Here’s a list of resources to help:

SAMHSA’s National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255

Depression Text Hotline – Text CONNECT to 741741

Amputee Coalition