50 Legs Inc. helps amputees make positive strides.
Steve Chamberland has led a very active lifestyle, including playing semi-pro football and amateur hockey, as well as being a professional wrestler. And becoming an amputee has not slowed him down one bit.
In fact, he turned his personal experience with prosthetics into a nonprofit, 50 Legs Inc., that is celebrating 10 years of helping others. The charity provides amputees with prosthetics and then ensures that they, literally, quickly get back on their feet.
“We’ve helped over 600 people get prosthetics,” he shares. “Kids, adults and veterans from all over the country. We’ve helped three people in Marion County.”
Ariel Rich, with War Horse Harley-Davidson in Ocala, is friends with some of them, which spurred her to organize the July 10th Warrior Fest fundraiser for 50 Legs. The event, held at the dealership, featured personalities such as Eddy Luiso, also known as “Everywhere Eddy,” who Rich also calls the “Godfather of Harleys” and Jimmy Hart, the “Mouth of the South,” from World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. More than $8,000 was raised for the nonprofit.
“We had a couple of friends who were in a motorcycle accident that left them an amputee,” who, Rich explains, are now facing “a new way of walking or picking something up or driving. Eddy knew Steve. So, I said, ‘I know how much you help and 50 Legs does for everybody. Could you help?’ And he took care of them. We figured, why stop there. Let’s do a huge event for 50 Legs and raise awareness and money. A lot of times, insurance doesn’t cover a prosthetic. That’s where 50 Legs comes in and Steve’s helped so many people. He’s a superhero.”
Chamberland says his charity, based in Clearwater, receives three to five applications a week.
“We use a company in Orlando,” he offers. “We put the person in a hotel. All they pay for is food and a rental car. We fly them in on Sunday and on Monday they’re usually standing, Tuesday they’re walking and we fly them home by Friday. If it’s above the knee, it’s usually seven to 10 days.”
There also is follow-up care.
“We’re here for them 100 percent,” Chamberland states. “I got a call from a wife whose husband lost both legs. I’m going to meet him and tell him, ‘Life’s not over yet, brother.’”
“In the biker world, it’s one big family. If somebody is down, we make sure they get back up,” Rich says. “What happens is traumatic and 50 Legs can walk with them to the next level. They’re switching gears—and to be part of that is amazing.”