Eddie Garcia rolled his wheelchair to the screen gate of his Henderson front door early April 2 after hearing a light tap.
Even after having his hands and feet amputated in 2013, Garcia has not let anything confine him. He coaches youth, runs races, plays basketball and swings a baseball bat.
“I’m not going to let anything stop me from what I want to do,” he said. “I believe anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”
On April 2, the Challenged Athletes Foundation presented Garcia with one more tool to help him carry on: Ossur Flex-Run legs.
He bounced with excitement as he met with Bob Babbitt, the cofounder of the organization, and Rudy Garcia-Tolson, a Paralympian and spokesman with the nonprofit.
“Can I put the legs on now?” Garcia asked. “What city has a marathon going on? I want to start running now.”
Garcia had his hands and legs amputated in 2013 after contracting a flesh-eating baterium. Even though the doctor was able to remove it, the medication Garcia was on during his medically induced coma restricted blood flow to his limbs, causing them to die.
But that hasn’t slowed Garcia down.
“These are just my battle scars,” he said.
He was back coaching for the city of Henderson a few months after being released from the hospital.
In November, he participated in the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
Garcia hasn’t stopped there.
A few weeks ago, he tried the batting cage.
“I went to a baseball game and just had the itch to play,” he said. “I made my wife get some tape, and we taped it up to my arm.”
Along his journey, he found out about the Challenged Athletes Foundation, a nonprofit that helps people with physical challenges who have aspirations to take part in athletics.
Babbitt said while many aspects of recovery from physical challenges, such as amputations, are covered under health insurance, athletic support isn’t.
“Being active is not a luxury,” Babbitt said. “It makes a person better.”
The company has provided millions of dollars in grants since it started in 1997.
Garcia was the latest recipient.
“I never thought I’d get it,” Garcia said.
Garcia has seen other athletes use the legs at races.
“I really needed something like this,” he said. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to continue working out. I haven’t been able to do different exercises like lifting weights or all the other things I would do before I got sick. This gives me opportunity to get in the best shape I can be in.”
If anyone knows the challenges Garcia faces, it’s Garcia-Tolson, who had his legs amputated when he was 5 after he was born with a defect.
“I got my prosthetics when I was 6,” he said.
In addition to being excited to walk to school like his siblings, he started taking part in athletics. Now, he inspires others dealing with life after amputations.
Garcia-Tolson said he can see Garcia going far.
“He definitely has the drive to do a marathon,” Garcia-Tolson said.
And that’s exactly what Garcia hopes to do.
Garcia remains a coach for the city of Henderson youth sports and is in the process of starting a foundation, Be Strong and Win, which he said will provide college scholarships for students who have faced adversity.
For now, Garcia is excited to test out his new legs.
“You’re going to see me running around all through Las Vegas,” he said. “People will be wonder, ‘Why is he running past us again?’ ”
Contact Henderson View reporter Michael Lyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5201.