May 19, 2012; one month and two days from today (assuming a 31-day month); 2,851,200 seconds in the future, is a day you should mark on your calendar. Because that Saturday, in Philadelphia, you can (and should) attend the Leg Amputee and Mobility Clinic.* Why? Let me count the ways.
First, if you don’t, you’ll end up sitting in your La-Z-Boy watching Real Housewives of Bora Bora or whatever NASCAR event is scheduled for that weekend. While you may learn that Poema and Titaua both think that the other is a lying skank, or that the Charlotte Motor Speedway holds 140,000 spectators breathlessly awaiting the next wreck on 24-degree banked corner turns, neither of those facts will help you enjoy a life of improved mobility and enhanced prosthetic control.
Second, the event is being held on sacred ground: a significant portion of the park was previously a U.S. Postal Service parking lot. But thanks to the University of Pennsylvania, that 14 acre plot and an additional 10 acres have since been transformed into a bucolic space that includes the following kinds of trees: catalpa, hackberry, swamp white oak, white pine, metasequoia, larch and balsam pine. I myself am a huge fan of the hackberry tree, so I would drive the 143 miles from my home to Penn Park just for that.
Third, refreshments will be provided. Folks – where else are you going to go on Saturday May 19 and get free drinks? (No, they will not be alcoholic beverages – getting amputees drunk and then teaching them how to run, while a fantastic idea for a reality TV show, is a horrible concept from a liability perspective.)
Fourth, that day will mark the 436th anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s beheading. “Why is that important?” you ask? Easy – because Anne Boleyn refused to become Henry VIII’s mistress, ultimately leading him to break from the Catholic Church when Pope Clement VII refused to annul his marriage to Anne’s predecessor, Catherine of Aragon. This ultimately led to the Church of England coming under the King’s control, which as we all know, was a really big [expletive deleted] deal. Unable to provide Big Hank a son, Anne ultimately went to prison on what were likely trumped-up charges of adultery, incest and treason. Upon being found guilty, Henry – ever the gentleman – commuted her sentence from burning to beheading, and even brought in an expert French swordsman to perform the act, rather than expose his soon-to-be ex-wife to the considerably less noble beheading by axe. Poor Anne Boleyn became an above-neck amputee 436 years to the day before the Mobility Clinic. The least we can all do to honor her memory is to run around a park filled with hackberry trees to commemorate the event.**
Fifth, if you go to Philly for the Clinic which runs from 9-12, you can recharge all afternoon and then attend the Red Sox/Phillies game that night. In the first 10 games of the season, the Red Sox lost Jacoby Ellsbury for 2 months, backup catcher Kelly Shoppach stole his first base on his only attempt after 8 years in the majors (if you’re wondering why it took that long, view his preternaturally graceful slide into second base here), and Bobby Valentine has already alienated Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia. Imagine how awful things will look 33 days from now – and you can see it in person in Philly.
Sixth, for most of us, exercising in Penn Park is as close as we’ll ever get to saying we attended anything at an Ivy League school.
Seventh, the event’s leaders are Bob Gailey, PT, and Peter Harsch, CP, both of whom have extensive experience improving the mobility of people with limb loss. For anyone who has ever attended the Amputee Coalition’s educational conference, Bob’s mobility clinic there is always one of the most heavily attended and positively reviewed sessions. Peter is a high-end triathlete himself and has extensive experience working with amputees, including wounded warriors in his current position as head of prosthetics at the Naval Medical Center San Diego. If that doesn’t get your heart racing, Peter also participated in The Amazing Race with Sarah Reinertsen many moons ago.
Eighth, there will be a really cool speaker: Peggy Chenoweth, the Amputee Mommy (see my Blogroll links, left top side of this webpage). Peggy has been a huge supporter of mine as I struggle(d) to get less is more off the ground, and her experience and story are compelling. In addition, she is in the midst of transforming herself into a triathlete as we speak, which has led to many entertaining posts and tweets over the last 30 days.
Ninth, the Mobility Clinic is a Challenged Athletes Foundation event. CAF is one of the coolest organizations supporting individuals with disabilities, and this past weekend marked what would have been the 49th birthday of the man who inspired CAF’s creation, Jim McClaren. If you want to know what CAF does and why Jim McClaren is so important, click here.
Lastly, there will be a really lame speaker: me. I will stumble and bumble my way through my experience with limb loss. Bob Gailey and Peter Harsch will ultimately be forced to end my painfully awkward musings that will be more reminiscent of a drunken wedding toast than a polished presentation by firing tranquilizer darts into my neck and then explaining my sudden collapse by telling the audience that I failed to adequately hydrate myself, despite the free refreshments. There have been many people who wanted to shoot me – Bob and Peter will actually get the chance.
These are the top 10 reasons why every amputee within driving distance of Philadelphia should come to this free event on May 19, 2012, 9-12 pm. To register as a participant, click here. To volunteer for the event, click here. I hope to see all of you there!
*In the interest of full and complete disclosure, this event is sponsored by the company for which I work. That being said, it is a product-agnostic event, and the goal of the day is to teach people with limb loss, no matter what kind of prosthesis and products they use, to more effectively use and enjoy their prosthesis.
**I knew absolutely nothing about Anne Boleyn other than she was one of Henry VIII’s many unfortunate wives before writing this piece. Thank God for Wikipedia.