Tuesday, November 9, 2010 arrived with a clear early morning that promised to become a chilly, sunny, and typically autumn day. I zipped my coat, buckled my helmet strap, unlocked my bike, and headed off to work. A few minutes later, a garbage truck crossed a bike lane to make a right turn. I was in that bike lane. The tires of the truck crushed my left leg and caused other internal injuries. An amazing team of trauma surgeons saved my life, but they had to amputate my leg to do so.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Confucius.

In July 2011, I set off to walk a thousand miles as an above-knee amputee in my new prosthesis. The journey has held more twists, turns, and detours than I ever imagined.

I reached Mile 1000 on March 30, 2013.

But of course, that wasn't the end.

I'll keep walking!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Thousand Words

Mile Marker 1920:

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I've always had the desire to capture a moment in time.

Don't leave home without it!

For my 8th birthday, I got a Technicolor instamatic camera with a flashbulb on top.  Later I progressed to a Polaroid.  And finally at the end of 8th grade, I saved up enough babysitting money to buy a real 35mm camera, a Nikon FG.

Like everybody else, I've now gone digital.  Yet I still carry my camera everywhere.  A tiny Cyber-shot, so small it fits in my pocket.  If it's on my prosthetic side, I don't even feel it!

But today, at Mile Marker 1920,  I'm on the other side of the lens.

(Last year's issue!)
This fall, my story is going to be featured in the "Be Well Philly" issue of Philadelphia Magazine.  Yes, the whole city is going to read about my last 3 1/2 years!

The article is about overcoming health challenges and adapting to life as an amputee.  About the journey of a thousand miles and beyond.

A few weeks ago, reporter Gina Tomaine interviewed me.  The tale flowed easily -- in WORDS.

But now there's a PHOTO SHOOT.

A thousand questions run through my mind....

How does one dress to be in a magazine?
Who am I after nearly 2,000 miles?
What does OVERCOMING look like??

They stack up high like my pile of old t-shirts, none of which is presentable enough for modeling!

After much deliberation, I choose a pink tank-top, denim shorts, and black sandals.  I simply decide to be MYSELF.

Photographer Adam Jones has the job of telling my story in photos.  Or photo.  Of all the pictures he takes, the magazine might choose just one.

We meet on Penns Landing.  The plan is to catch the sunset, but there's a storm on the way.  It's so windy Adam uses sandbags to weigh down his light set.

I climb up on the stone wall above the choppy Delaware River.  Behind me, the sky is steely gray.  My hair whips everywhere.

I stand tall, hands on hips, while he snaps photos from the ground below.  His flash lights my face like the sun.  It feels awkward at first.  Walkers watch us as they pass by.  They smile and wave.  So I start waving back.  And when Adam lets me peek at the photos, I see what the image portrays:  CONFIDENCE.

Next, he has me walk along the top of the wall, one foot in front of the other.   The wind gusts, but my Genium and I hold steady.  (I tell Adam about PT Deb and all our balance beam practice!)   Then he shows me his camera, and I see what we were after.  My Genium's blurred; my hair flies out behind me.  Pure motion.  MOVING FORWARD.

Finally, he has me raise my fists high above my head.  (Rocky style!)  We repeat this pose over and over again.  My arms shoot up and down, each time with more force.  I get into it.  I feel the victory!  And when I see the shots, I understand why.  This is what OVERCOMING looks like.

We move to Boathouse Row.  Once again, Adam sets up his equipment and snaps photo after photo, working toward one that will tell the whole story.

Between shots, I see myself through his lens.  High above the Schuylkill, as tall as the Philly skyline.

It's then that I realize my clothes didn't really matter.  The photos capture not only what's outside, but what's inside too.   A thousand miles and beyond.

The whole process -- settings and poses, camera and lights --  makes me feel like a STAR.

That's me in there!

I wish my friends along this journey could join me here.  Everyone who's dealt with injury or illness.  Anyone who looks in the mirror and sees disability.  I wish they too could be in front of Adam's camera.  To feel this boost.  To have their doubts fall away.  And to believe in themselves like I do right now.

He gets his photo.

The one that's worth a thousand words.

(Of course the magazine won't be out for a while.  Cliffhanger, I know!)

Back in the parking lot, my little Cyber-shot is still in my pocket.  And it's itching for a turn.  So I ask this real photographer for.... What else?


Adam takes my little camera, extends his arm, and presses the shutter.

What'd you expect?  He's a professional!

Maybe this isn't our "thousand words" shot.
But it definitely captures the moment!

Stay tuned for the Be Well Philly issue.  
Coming soon to a newsstand near you!

In the meantime, check out Adam's website!


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  2. That's awesome! I can't wait to read the article!

  3. How cool Rebecca! I'll need to get a signed copy!! :)

  4. Can't wait to read the article! You look pretty in pink (but we already knew that...! (-; )