Amputee Coalition celebrates successes in opening ceremony

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Officials shared some of the successes of the past 30 years and shared plans for the future during the opening ceremony of the Amputee Coalition National Conference, here.

Robert S. Gailey, MPT, PhD, emphasized the importance of the organization’s members in fostering its growth.

“The Amputee Coalition is its members. No more, no less,” he said. “It is the people caring for each other and sharing information. In this audience, there are people who carry the organization forward like the pioneers before [them].”

Robert Gailey

Robert. S Gailey

Reggie Showers

Reggie Showers

Gailey encouraged amputees to get involved by reaching out to other amputees, attending sessions, participating in research or joining a committee.

“The secret of success of the Amputee Coalition is reducing the dependence on others and becoming a self-sustaining organization through membership,” Gailey said.

Reggie Showers, an extreme athlete and double amputee, talked about the positive impact the Amputee Coalition has had on his life by allowing him to spend time with other amputees who support one another and share information. As a child, Showers said, he was the only amputee in his school, his neighborhood and his church. He felt he had no support in dealing with his amputations. But, in 1986, the Amputee Coalition formed.

Susan Stout presents the Amputee Coalition President's Award to Charlie Steele.

Susan Stout, Amputee Coalition president and chief executive officer, presents the President’s Award to Charlie Steele.

“I felt as though I had a voice, finally,” he said. “I felt as though I had family — that there were other people out there who had my pain, who looked like me, who walked like me, who talked like me.” Showers said the organization’s Limb Loss Education Days are a way for amputees to get active in their own communities. In addition, he added the Amputee Coalition advocates for amputees.

“Not only do we have a voice in the community, but we have a voice in the government,” he said.

During the ceremony, Susan Stout, Amputee Coalition president and chief executive officer, presented Charlie Steele with the President’s Award.

Steele, an amputee since 1990, has held a number of volunteer roles with the Amputee Coalition, including peer visitor, peer visitor trainer, support group leader, regional representative of the Amputee Coalition’s national support group network, chair and member of the peer support committee, member of the national consumer advisory panel for limb loss research and statistics, member of the scientific and medical advisory committee, and member of the board of directors.

Steele said he has made hundreds of peer visits, in person or by phone. He urged other amputees to become peer visitors, as visitation can help new amputees with the transition to a different kind of life and calm their fears.

“After 30 years, [the Amputee Coalition is] still the only really good support organization for amputees. [We] need those boots on the ground,” he said. – by Amanda Alexander

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Gailey R, et al. Opening ceremony. Presented at: Amputee Coalition National Conference; June 9-11, 2016; Greensboro, N.C.

Disclosures: Gailey, Showers, Steele and Stout report no relevant financial disclosures.

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