Proud to be from Pittsburgh: Gold-medal paralympians offer free classes to amputees

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Two winners of gold medals in the Paralympics are making a big difference in Pittsburgh by teaching amputees how to walk, run and live a normal life.

"When we show them video of myself running 100 meters on a prosthesis in 11.7 seconds, which was less than two seconds behind the great Carl Lewis that same year, they become inspired by it," said Dennis Oehler.

Oehler and fellow Paralympic gold medal athlete Todd Schaffhauser run the Walking School for Amputees at Forbes Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Pittsburgh. They know what it's possible to achieve with just one leg, but their patients may not.

"It's tough, because they think sometimes that they're isolated, that there's no one else out there who's going through what I'm giong through," Schaffhauser said.


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"My goal is to get out of this wheelchair completely, and I'm getting closer," said Ed Rickets.

Rickets wasn't doing a lot of walking until he started coming to the Walking School once a month. 

"With Ed, we got him up to a point where he'd never walked on a treadmill before, and he got up on the treadmill and he walked for only a minute and a half, and now he's walking over 30 minutes a day," Oehler said.

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Any amputee is welcome to join the Walking School. Rickets brought his friend William Fisher to visit the group, which also serves as a support system.

"When I walked in here, they all welcomed me. They introduced themselves, they made me feel good," Fisher said.

The Walking School has now become a nationwide program, but it all started in Pittsburgh. Oehler and Schaffhauser are in town once a month offering the free group class. For more information on the Walking School and a schedule of when they're in Pittsburgh, click here.


 

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