140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Walk to get kids legs to stand on

By Doug Robinson,Deseret News, Salt Lake, Ut.For the complete Story & Pic go tohttp://www.deseretnews.com/article/700061586/Walk-to-get-kids-legs-to-stand-on.html?

Steve Wahlquist is going for a walk, and he wants you to know about it.

This hardly sounds newsworthy until you get the details. On Sept. 10, at 7 a.m., he will set out from Primary Children's Hospital, at the north end of Salt Lake City and walk to St. George, some 365 miles down the road.

He will walk 10 miles a day for about seven weeks. He will begin walking in September and finish in November.

Assuming he covers a mile in 2,640 steps — the human average — Wahlquist will take about 963,600 steps en route to St. George. But then he's hardly average.

Did I mention that Wahlquist is going to walk nearly 400 miles on one leg — the only leg he owns — and two crutches?

We are used to these feats by now — people walking, running, swimming, flying and sailing great distance for a cause or their own gratification. But crutching the length of Utah for seven weeks? What could cause someone to walk for miles without a golf club in his hands?

"I was talking with a friend about making a difference and she said I should do something for kids who need artificial limbs," recalls Wahlquist. "It was a natural."

His own research revealed that in the current economic climate, Shriner's Hospital is able to help only half of the 250 amputee kids who seek their help. He decided to take a long walk to raise donations for them.

"I can relate to those kids," he says.

Born with cancer, he had his right leg amputated at the hip two days later. As a teen, he consulted a doctor for a prosthetic leg. The doctor inquired about his lifestyle. He explained that he played little league baseball — he was the first baseman on his all-star team — rode a bike every morning to deliver newspapers, rappelled cliffs, roller-skated, hiked, skied snow and water and had earned an Eagle Scout Award.

The doctor shook his head and said, "We can give you a limb but only if you sit still." Wahlquist replied, "Then forget it."

This is one of Wahlquist's favorite childhood stories: After hearing a radio ad about "handicapped" people, he asked his dad what the term meant. His dad explained that handicapped people were people who couldn't do certain things because of problems with their bodies.

"I guess I'm not handicapped then, am I," the boy said.

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