April 8, 2011
After months of training, amputee Kevin Degnan is excited to finally reach his goal to finish a 5K on Sunday, April 10 during the Shoes for Shelter Race at Forest Lawn Cemetery, where he once ran with his alma mater, Canisius College. He will be running side by side with the very team who has been there with him throughout his rehabilitation, Kenmore Mercy Hospital’s AthletiCare.
Degnan, a star runner at St. Francis High School, had earned a full scholarship to Canisius and just began attending classes when he was hit by a car in 1986. His lower left leg was severely injured, putting his competitive running career on hold long term. After enduring fourteen surgeries, years of rehabilitation, and constant fights with infection, Degnan and his doctor made the mutual decision this past fall to amputate.
“Running was my life, and this accident, and then the surgery; it hit me from so many psyches. It’s been an uphill battle, but, I have a competitive spirit that pushes me forward,” said Degnan.
That drive and competitive spirit that made Degnan a great runner 25 years ago has returned to him. He runs each day to AthletiCare; charts his ongoing progress; and is constantly working to reach his goal to be able to run again pain free.
He began his rehabilitation late last fall working with Joe Baumgarden, manager of AthletiCare at Kenmore Mercy Hospital, who tailored a rehabilitation plan working on balance, strength, coordination, getting him to walk and eventually run without thinking.
“As far as patients go, Kevin has made the most of his experience, showing undying determination, courage and enthusiasm,” said Baumgarden. “Some people who go through an amputation end up being inactive and at risk for obesity, depression, and diabetes. That obviously hasn’t been the case for Kevin whose efforts have been inspirational to all of our patients.”
After Degnan crosses the finish line, he is far from done. “I'm working to establish a support group for people who are amputees. I want them to look up to me and say you know what? We can do this too.”