140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Future Holds No Limits for Colorado Teen Ambitious amputee pushes boundaries thanks to Shriners Hospitals for Children

Heidi loves attending camps sponsored by Shriners Hospitals where she can enjoy activities like skiing and meet other kids who are amputees. “It’s been great to make friends who I can talk to and know they really understand me because they’ve been through the same thing," she said.

Volleyball. Whitewater rafting. Hiking. Hunting. All of these are activities that any Colorado teenager might enjoy. But when talking about a teenager who has lived without her right leg since she was 8 months old, participating in such activities takes on new meaning.

Heidi Duce has fibuler hemimelia. When she was born, her right leg was missing a fibula, ankle bone and three toes and was amputated. From infancy, she’s relied on prostheses to maintain her on-the-go lifestyle.

“I’m hard on my leg,” Heidi laughs.

At just 17 years old, she’s already been through 23 or 24 prosthetics, according to her last count. She knows this wouldn’t be possible without Shriners Hospitals for Children -- Salt Lake City, where she receives treatment.

“The people at Shriners Hospitals are just unbelievable,” she said. “I couldn’t even imagine a world without them they’ve always been such a huge part of my life.”

Heidi will soon begin her senior year of high school and works at her father’s service station in Ouray, Colo. “I’m learning to work on cars,” she says. She already changes the oil and services her own car. In her spare time, she’s out enjoying all that her home state has to offer... counting hunting with her father and hiking with friends among her many adventurous hobbies.

And while she has plenty of friends in her hometown to hang out with, Heidi cherishes the friends she’s made at the “un-limb-ited” camps hosted by Shriners Hospitals for Children. The camps are for children and teens that have disabilities and offer exciting white water rafting and skiing experiences.

“I live in a town of only about 700 people,” she explains. “There are no other teen amputees besides me. It’s been great to make friends who I can talk to and know they really understand me because they’ve been through the same thing.”

The caring and support Heidi has received from Shriners Hospitals is helping to shape her future. She wants to be a nurse, and eventually, a prosthetist.

“Everyone at Shriners Hospitals for Children is so passionate about what they do it’s really cool,” Heidi says. “They’ve given so much to me, and I want to give something back."

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