Sunday, May 30, 2010

Colorado amputees want to show life's possibilities after a disability

From Colorado Daily:

Losing a limb doesn't have to mean the end of an active lifestyle.

For 33-year-old Chad Butrick (pictured), in fact, it meant the beginning of one.

Butrick lost his leg in 2005 after he was involved in a car accident in Missouri. He'd always enjoyed getting outside, but the accident brought the inspiration he needed to follow his dream: He wanted to climb mountains. So Butrick moved to Colorado and became a patient of Angela Montgomery, who manages Hanger Prosthetics and Orthotics in Boulder.

On May 31, Butrick will join a dozen of Montgomery's patients -- some are also amputees, some use orthotic braces -- who are, for the first time, walking the Bolder Boulder together as a group.

"I see patients every day, many of which would like to know each other," Montgomery said. "We need a better community so people can share ideas and not feel alone."

Five years into being an amputee, Butrick has it pretty well figured out. Montgomery has made him several activity-specific prosthetics, and he's used them to climb rocks faces, ice flows and mountains across Colorado. This spring, Butrick and another amputee, Chad Jukes, even made a trip to climb in Alaska's remote Ruth Gorge.

Montgomery said she now has a handful of patients like Butrick, and she's asking them to reach out to more recent amputees. That's where events like the Bolder Boulder come in. And Butrick -- director of operations for Paradox Sports, which helps disabled people access outdoor activities -- is psyched to help.

"I want people with a disability to understand that their life isn't over, no matter how bad it is," Butrick said. "That's my whole purpose. That's why I went to Alaska. That's why I want to do the Bolder Boulder."