HUGHESVILLE, Md. (May 08, 2008)—On Wednesday, 15 year-old amputee Lorenzo Smith received a sprinting leg courtesy of Wardell Swann of Hughesville-based On Higher Ground, Inc. The event took place at the World Gym on Chaneyville Road in Owings, Calvert County.
Two years ago Smith was struck by a car, which caused damaged so severe that he had to have his leg amputated.
According to Swann, the current prosthetic leg Smith previously used made it difficult for him to participate in football and basketball. The sprinting leg is designed to allow him to be more physically active.
Swann and Smith met at the Limbs for Life Foundation fundraiser Kicking for Kids Who Can't in October 2007 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Swann was putting on his sprinting legs about to do an exhibition run when Smith stopped to talk him about his legs. After the event, Swann says he decided to assist the young man and help him to get a sprinting leg.
According to Swann, Smith's insurance will only pay for a prosthetic leg once every five years.
The skills Swann learned as a journeyman lineman at Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SMECO) has allowed him to work in partnership with Phillip C. Hewitt at Hanger Prosthetics & Orthostics, Inc. to build a leg for Lorenzo.
While Swann was working for SMECO, he was diagnosed with pneumoccocal pneumonia.
The disease attacked his body's blood system and caused him to have both legs amputated above the knee and nine fingers within two months.
Once Swann recovered he wanted to participate in sports again and realized this was a tremendous motivation for him and others. In 2000, within six months of amputation, he began competing in sports as a disabled athlete.
Swann has won gold and silver medals in the Paralympics and other games internationally.
Swann started sharing his story and experiences with all those he could by starting On Higher Ground, Inc. in 2002—a non-profit organization that supports athletes with disabilities, encourages and assists heightened awareness of concerns affecting amputees and their families and the disabled. On Higher Ground works with community and national partners to provide innovative solutions for amputees.
Swann was recently awarded with a Enduring Spirit Award for his ongoing efforts to assist others in need and for his service to the community.
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OPINION: Amputees Helping Amputees Is Inspiring Program, Sept. 21, 2007