Noelle Lambert, Emma Graham, taken at the Pediatric Unit at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Charlestown, MA, (Photo Credit: The Born To Run Foundation)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — It has been a long road to recovery for Emma Graham.
After a series of strokes, the 24-year-old University of New Hampshire student-athlete from Manchester, NH had her right leg amputated above the knee.
Graham tells WBZ NewsRadio that that it took nearly two years to get comfortable with her prosthetic.
“Now I am confident in myself, I know who I am and I am just grateful for my independence,” she said.
But Emma’s big wish: to be able to run into the surf again at the beach — alluded her.
Enter Noelle Lambert who after losing her leg in a moped accident on Martha’s Vineyard in 2016, received a donated prosthetic device from the Heather Abbot Foundation.
Inspired by this gesture, Lambert said she wanted to do the same for others and launched the Born To Run Foundation.
On Thursday, Emma became the foundation’s second recipient. She received a waterproof prosthetic.
“When she goes to the beach now she’s not even going to have to worry about taking off her leg and hobble down to the water,” Lambert said. “Now she can just put this one and run straight into the water…it really helped me when I had to go down to the beach with my friends,” she said.
In December of 2018 the foundation donated its first donation — a prosthetic running blade to Isaak Depelteau, a three-year-old-boy from Amherst, NH whose lower leg was amputated because of neurofibromatosis disease.
According to the foundation, it’s estimated that every year, 185,000 people across the country lose a limb due to accident or disease.
The cost of a specialized prosthetic device can range from $5,000 to $100,000 and they need to be replaced every three to five years from not only wear and tear but as amputees get older and require new sizes.
Health insurance rarely covers athletic or specialized prosthetic.
“My one thing wish was when I lost my leg was I want to get back to the beach and back in the water and now I am there,” Graham said.
It took time and it took courage and it took kindness from a friend who fought her own struggle.but this summer Emma will have her own day at this beach.
Both women met at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and according to Dr. David Crandell, Medical Director of the Amputee Program at Spaulding, Noelle and Emma’s relationship was special as it showed the importance of peer visitation and support among amputees.
Crandell worked with both Lambert and Graham during their rehabilitation process.
Graham now volunteers with other amputees in the hospital’s pediatric unit in Charlestown. She said she is giving back by helping others move forward.
Lambert says that when she lost her leg at the age of 18, she relied heavily on family and lacrosse teammates to keep positive.Now at 21, she is providing the inspiration but says she insists she gets as much as she gives.
“Even though my accident does not define me, it changed me for the better,” said Noelle Lambert. “Working on the foundation and being able to provide special prostheses to young people who have lost limbs has meant everything to me,” she said. “I meet so many younger kids now who are born with limb loss and who that’s all they know but they think to themselves that they can do anything with their lives — I mean that is how I want to think. I want everybody to think like that.”
WBZ NewsRadio’s Kendall Buhl (KBuhlWBZ) reports