Giving Kids Who Have Lost Limbs the Chance to Run, Play and Act Like Kids

Giving Kids Who Have Lost Limbs the Chance to Run, Play and Act Like Kids

Pollyanna Hope and Mariatu, a girl from Makeni in Sierra Leone

Stephanie Decker

From left, Sarah Hope, Pollyanna Hope and Victoria Bacon

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These #heroes give child #amputees the chance to run, play and act like kids. | via @PointsofLight
Thursday, November 5, 2015 - 11:05am

The Daily Point of Light Award, created by President George H. W. Bush in 1989, celebrates the power of individuals to spark change and improve the world. In 2014, British Prime Minister David Cameron started the daily award in the U.K. to recognize outstanding individuals who are voluntarily making change in their communities and inspiring others. Recently, at the Conference on Volunteering and Service in Houston, Points of Light honored awardees from the U.S. and the U.K. who are dedicated to serving young amputees around the world.

During a tornado that swept through Indiana in 2012, 37-year-old Stephanie Decker huddled in her basement with her two children. The foundation of her house crumbling, she shielded her kids from the falling debris, unable to avoid a beam that fell and crushed her legs.

Though her children were unharmed, Decker faced cracked ribs, a punctured lung and a double leg amputation. 

Through this adversity and thanks to her lifelong love of sports, Decker founded the Stephanie Decker Foundation, which helps child amputees find self-confidence through physical activity. She sends children to the NubAbility Athletics camp in Illinois, which provides athletic training in 10 sports, including soccer, wrestling and baseball, to children missing limbs.

The foundation also raises funds to provide leading prosthetic care to kids who otherwise couldn’t afford it, having sponsored 76 campers so far. 

“We can teach these kids that they can do anything in the world,” says Decker, now 42. “I’m a firm believer – the only limitations that you have in life are the ones you set on yourself.”

The Hope family of England shares that belief.

In April 2007, the family’s matriarch, Elizabeth Panton, her daughter, Sarah Hope, and Hope’s 2-year-old daughter, Pollyanna, were hit by a double-decker bus in London. Panton was killed. Hope and Pollyanna were injured, but survived.

The toddler, whose right leg was partially amputated, had to undergo 14 surgeries in the six weeks following the accident. But thanks to the top-of-the-line care, she is now able to walk, run and play, leading a normal life.

Hope and her twin sister, Victoria Bacon, soon realized that high-quality surgeons and prosthetics are unavailable to most of the world. Thousands of child amputees face isolation, stigma, infection and immobility as a result.

In 2011 the sisters founded Elizabeth’s Legacy of Hope, which raises funds for physiotherapists, prosthetics and rehabilitation, as well as for the psychological help amputees often need.

Read the rest of the story on the Points of Light blog.