After attending a support group meeting for amputees, Kristen Smith, a student in D'Youville's doctor of physical therapy program, saw a need and took action.
Not an amputee herself, Smith attended the support group meeting to lend "support." At the meeting she realized that there were no fundraising walks or runs to support amputees, as there are for other causes. A light bulb went on in Smith's head and the idea of Laps for Limbs was born.
Smith, who earned her bachelor's degree at D'Youville, approached D'Youville College staff with her idea. With the assistance of Ben Randle, director of D'Youville's Veterans Affairs Office, and Ed Draper, assistant director, Smith's idea was put into motion.
The concept behind the Laps for Limbs fundraiser is to have runners and walkers complete laps around a track. For each lap completed, sponsors pledge support, with funds earmarked for two organizations that support children and veterans with amputations: "The Little Pebble Foundation" and Vets H.E.R.D.
The running track at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs was secured with assistance from Randle. AthletiCare Amherst (Catholic Health) provided volunteer trainers for the event. The Hit Men (event D.J.s) volunteered music and entertainment for the event. The D'Youville College Student Association and the Student Physical Therapy Association provided funding and support. Smith herself designed a poster to promote the event and recruit runners and walkers.
On a chilly Sunday morning on March 25, with gray skies above and the track still wet from the previous day's rain, Smith, and Kevin Degnan, an amputee, began their run around the St. Francis track and Laps for Limbs was underway. Eventually 30 people would participate, completing a total of 756 laps, and equaling an impressive 189 miles. Besides the runners and walkers, Smith is quick to point out that the volunteers helped make a difference, including Marshall Dornick (her "go-to guy"), and her father, who drove up from Virginia to attend the event.
To date, Laps for Limbs has raised a total of $4,600 to support amputees, and Smith is already planning for next year's event. She is very pleased with the results of the inaugural event and is certain that with what was learned, next year's event will only get better.
To learn more about getting involved with Laps for Limbs, email LapsforLimbs@gmail.com.