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Local boy runs with help from prosthetics

His legs were amputated above the knee, but that doesn’t slow down Cameron Lutges

Posted: April 22, 2009 10:22 p.m.
Updated: April 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Cameron Lutges, left, and friend Cody McCasland play together before McCasland presents Lutges with the new prosthetic legs as a birthday gift Monday morning.

His first words were, "I do it."

That can-do sentiment marks the way Cameron Lutges, 7, approaches life in spite of his physical challenges.

A life without lower legs has ceased to stop Cameron from a favorite activity - running.

Cameron was born without developed bones in the lower portion of his legs. When he was 10 months old, doctors amputated Cameron's legs from just above his knees. At age 1, he received his first pair of prosthetic limbs.

"Various legs were used to help him support his balance and learn to walk," said Cameron's father, Alex Lutges. "He would get (new legs) every year. He adapted really well."

Cameron would climb playground equipment with ease. And when kids would ask where his legs were, he'd respond politely, or his brother would come to his side.

"He adjusted well," Lutges said. "I told him, ‘People are gonna ask you questions,' and I'd tell him, ‘You have to explain to them, and then they're never going to ask you again.'"

For the last three years, Cameron has run in at least part of the City of Santa Clarita Marathon Kids K event.

"I'd take off fast," Cameron, of Valencia, said with confidence. But as enduring and motivated as Cameron is, there were still ways in which he was limited.

On one occasion, Cameron, in tears, approached his dad over his inability to jump rope.

"I told him, ‘You will, and I promise you that,'" said Alex Lutges.

His prosthetic legs also haven't provided for quite the mobility he desires in his running endeavors.

But on Monday he received a surprise visit from a friend in Texas that changed that.

Cameron's friend Cody McCasland, a spokesman for the Challenged Athletes' Foundation, presented Cameron with a new pair of running legs.

The new legs, provided through a grant by the foundation, give more flexibility and spring than the standard prosthetic limbs, allowing for easier running.

"I'm so happy to be here today," said McCasland, 7, before surprising Cameron with the legs. "The other day I told my mom that I hope Cameron gets his new running legs soon so (he) will be able to run like me. On behalf of the Challenged Athletes Foundation and Ossur (the company that produces the prosthetic limbs), I'm so excited to be able to present Cameron with his brand new running legs."

The Challenged Athletes Foundation provides opportunities for those with physical disabilities to pursue active lifestyles and competitive athletics. Alex Lutges and Kristin Lutges, Cameron's mother, applied for the grant for the legs in November.

Cameron's eyes lit up as he took hold of his new legs and within minutes, he was off and running.

"As soon as we put the new legs on, he was able to just do it," Alex Lutges said.

"It was remarkable to see him get the new legs because when he was born, we didn't know what to expect," said Kristin Lutges, of Saugus. "I always felt like his current prosthetics really held him back and he wasn't able to do everything that he wanted to do. Now that he has his new running legs, there's nothing that can stop him."

For Cameron, the legs signify his newfound ability be active like his friend Cody, who Cameron admires for his athleticism.

"I have been wanting these because Cody has them and Cody runs," Cameron said.

"Those (his old prosthetics) were like the Volkswagen, and these (new limbs) are more like the Porsche-type deal," said Alex Lutges. "When I saw them - the whole idea of just the possibilities he has in front of him now are just amazing."

The Kid K marathon comes in November, but for now, Cameron and his parents will prepare for the University of Central Oklahoma Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilities in June.

"I want to win at the Endeavor Games," Cameron said. And maybe some day, Alex Lutges added, it's on to the U.S. Paralympics.

"That'd be something I'd love to see him accomplish. It doesn't matter if he medals. Getting there would be an accomplishment of his own," he said.


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