Photos by Tracie McFarlin
St. George, UT, November 5, 2010 — On September 10, 2010, Steve Wahlquist, a cancer survivor began a walk from Salt Lake City headed to St. George to raise awareness for the Limbs for Life Foundation. On Saturday, November 6 at 2:00PM, Steve will conclude his walk at The Village Bank Main Office located at 294 East Tabernacle. The public is invited to come to The Village Bank and meet Steve and congratulate him on completing his journey. For information about this meet and greet contact Shauna Ottesen at The Village Bank, 674-5200, thevillagebank.com.
Steve was born with cancer, his leg and hip joint were removed within days. Given only a 50/50 chance he would see his first birthday, Steve has made a point of beating the odds ever since. His current challenge is walking from Salt Lake City, UT to St. George, UT, 365 miles – on crutches. No one has ever done it. Steve proposes to be the first. Now a 50 year veteran amputee, Steve has accepted another challenge he sees as far more important than his personal quest to walk across Utah. For more information go to walkstevewalk.com.
Over 133,000 people lose a limb each year in the United States. Hundreds of these amputees are children who will need artificial limbs, physical therapy and emotional support to adjust to a new life. Costs for prosthetics are rising; insurance is paying less, while some parents are losing their jobs and the insurance benefits that go with them. The cost of providing artificial limbs is prohibitive for far too many families, especially when young and growing kids have to be refitted with new prosthetics every 6-24 months.
Children who experience the loss of a limb and don’t have the benefit of prosthetics have far greater risk of being less active, overweight, less socially integrated, while suffering with additional emotional and psychological trauma. It doesn’t have to be this way. Artificial limbs change lives.Most kids who lose a limb are faced with a devastating, life-altering physical and psychological experience that can shake them to their very core. Some see no future in a life without their missing leg or arm. They know what it is like to feel “less”. Steve wants to show them a different future: a future that is not defined by the loss of a limb. He believes while losing a limb is inconvenient, it does not have to be disabling. Steve is passionate about helping these kids. This year hundreds of children will need artificial limbs, physical therapy and emotional support to adjust to their new life. Far too many children will not get the help they need simply because they do not know help is available.
Steve, who has never had an artificial limb, is walking on crutches from Salt Lake City to St. George, Utah to raise awareness of the challenges these kids face and how obtaining prosthetics can greatly improve their lives. He also wants to encourage people to help turn tragedy into triumph by providing funds for these kids to obtain prosthetics.
But Steve’s walk is about more than just raising money. He hopes to send these kids a message by doing what most would consider improbable, if not impossible. Losing a limb is a challenge. How these kids choose to meet that challenge will make all the difference. Together we can help give them hope for a healthier, happier, fuller life. The Salt Lake Shriners Hospital reports that they expect to fit over 250 artificial limbs for children this year alone. With a declining budget and increased need, they are having to make decisions which will limit the help that will be made available for these children.
When an organization, such as Shriners or Limbs for Life takes a child into their care, they have made a commitment to provide limbs and services even into young-adulthood. The costs are staggering. I intend to help create the funds to allow any child who needs this service to have access to the best limbs and therapy available.