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Amputees learn to walk, run again at national conference in Tucson

Published: Jul. 14, 2018 at 7:48 PM MST|Updated: Jul. 28, 2018 at 3:48 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Hundreds of amputees are gathered at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort this weekend for the Amputee Coalition National Conference.

Saturday people from across the country with lower limb loss got the chance to work with professionals on their mobility goals, from simply learning to walk again to running full sprints. The conference also features peer and personal motivational coaching for those with upper limb loss for the very first time.

"Often times when you have an amputation, you get a couple of sessions of physical therapy but they don't often teach you how to run," says Sarah Reinertsen, the first amputee to be featured on "The Amazing Race," and has run marathons on all seven continents. "Not that you have to do a marathon, but if you want to run with your grand kids again, or play on your company softball team, or just go to the gym and workout and just be a part of your community, its important to learn how to do those things."

"A lot of amputees are the only amputee around," says Jami Marseilles, an Arizona native who lost both of her legs after getting lost in the White Mountains. She is world's first double amputee to complete a full marathon. "When you come to the conference you meet so many other people missing limbs and nobody cares. Everybody just wants to delve in to information, and ask questions. It's really an incredible resource, a source for education,  and providing opportunities for people who might not have as much where they come from."

"You develop relationships with mentors and people you can be mentors to, and those relationships are just one of the coolest things about this conference," says Eric McElvenny, a retired Marine captain who lost part of his leg in Afghanistan, and competes in "Ironman" competitions around the world. "Understanding where someone is because you've been there and helping someone through a struggle or a challenge or getting them to the next step is one of the most rewarding things you can do, have an impact on someone else's life."

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