An Interesting Exchange

amputee football

23 Nov An Interesting Exchange

Here is an interesting exchange between a man from Arizona and I. It came out of the blue and I could well have considered it junk mail and not responded but I decided to respond and am happy I did.
EMAIL I RECEIVED:
“Good Evening your honor,
I apologize for writing to you so late in the evening; however, I was feeling a little down and I was googling things I could do as an above knee amputee. And in that search I found your name and the amazing work you have done bringing football to amputees.

 

I have been an amputee for approximately 9 years now and I have coached HS football, girls basketball, and many other sports. In addition to coaching I have well over 35,000 hours of volunteer work yet I still feel unfulfilled. I am reaching out to you to not only obtain advice on how to improve my life as an amputee but, to see if there is anything I could do to help you in your work.
I currently reside in Arizona; however, traveling would not be an issue for me. I would love for you to contact me either by phone.
Thanking you in advance,
Coach
MY RESPONSE:
Thanks for your note Coach.
I appreciate your strength and your passion to serve others.
In reality, I have not been actively involved working with amputees, though I did sponsor events in our city for the Sierra Leone Single Amputee Soccer Team when they came to the United States. Subjects of extraordinary massacre and brutality, these courageous and skilled young men and women are dedicated to telling the tragic story of what happened in their country.
It was a particularly unique experience for them because scholars who have followed the slave trade from West Africa to the US demonstrated that many of the African Americans in our area came to us from Sierra Leone. There are documented similarities in language patterns, food preparation, movement and music and I believe our guests felt uniquely close to home knowing that perhaps some of their ancestors — in the post slavery era — are engaged residents of our unique community.
While visiting us, the group not only demonstrated their finesse in athletic pursuits but in song and dance and incredible joy and humor given their backgrounds.  Needless to say I was incredibly moved by their visit as I believe they were by our hospitality. Occasionally, I get an email from one of the members of the team sharing their progress and of course asking for help to promote the mission of sharing their story.
I am not aware of any programs in our area unique to amputees other than perhaps the special olympics or the occasional tours of wounded warriors, a number of whom are single and double amputees,  who come through our community to tell the story of war and to raise funds for equipment and other support to the men and women with whom they served.
There was talk about setting up a center for wounded warrior recovery in the SC lowcountry but I am not sure it ever got off the ground.  Gary Sinese who played Lt Dan in the film Forrest Gump has done a lot of work generating support.
This is to say that I am not sure there is an opportunity for you to share your expertise and passion for amputees in our small community.  That said, I am going to check to see what may be going on which I may not be aware.
I will be back in touch with you once I have spoken to others, especially former City Council Member Donnie Beer who has dedicated her life to working with veterans and with the American Red Cross to help others who suffer.
Thanks again for reaching out. I am honored that you reached out to me and will be back in touch soon.
With best wishes and gratitude, I am sincerely
Billy Keyserling
Mayor, Beaufort,SC
AND THE RESPONSE BACK TO ME:
Dear Mayor
I truly appreciate you getting back to me, it’s refreshing to have a person such as yourself writing back to a person like myself.
As mentioned I coach women’s basketball and I will definitely tell my girls about the men and women from Sierra Leone, I believe when young people hear about stories like that they will be less likely to complain about my volunteer policy. Because of the gratification I have received from volunteering I require anyone who wants to play on my team have to volunteer a minimum of 10 hours.
None the less I also appreciate you looking for information for me I think it will help me get back on track. I’m having problems with my socket system, pain problems and just having a hard time being an amputee. I hope it’s a phase and I can’t wait to get my old self back.
Thank you again for allowing me to write you,
Coach
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