Written by Amy Di Leo Thursday, 15 August 2013 00:00
As an amputee, Caleb Giordano is used to stares and double takes. But for five days a year, the 15 year old from Carle Place can escape that as he’s canoeing, playing basketball or goofing around-just like any other teen-at the Amputee Coalition’s Paddy Rossbach Amputee Camp.
For the past two years, for five days in July, the Carle Place High School sophomore has attended the Paddy Rossbach Amputee Camp, outside Cincinnati, OH, with dozens of kids from across the country who, like him, may be missing an arm, a leg, or maybe all four limbs.
Caleb is a right above the knee amputee. (RAK). Born with Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), a rare non-heredity birth defect that caused his thighbone to not completely grow in utero, his right leg was noticeably shorter than his left, says his dad. When Caleb was about a year old, the Giordano’s made the decision to amputate Caleb’s foot and give him a thighbone so Caleb would be able to use a prosthetic leg. It was a decision that the Giordano’s, especially Caleb, are grateful they made.
“My leg hasn’t slowed me down at all in life,” shares Caleb. “It has actually given me some incredible opportunities, such as going to the camp.”
What makes this camp so “incredible” is that, set on 315 acres in Clarksville, OH, kids can fish and canoe, play basketball, do archery, climb an indoor rock wall, swim, or dangle 50’ in the air on a high-ropes course. But most importantly they can enjoy these activities without the concern of being ridiculed or bullied. Caleb may have said it best, “It’s a safe place.”
Back on Long Island, the nearly six-foot-tall teenager is a typical kid. He spends his free time playing videogames with his buddies and watching his three younger sisters. He also manages his high school football and baseball teams. But in his world in Carle Place, he is the only amputee.
“It changes everyone who comes to this camp,” shares Caleb, who admits he came home from camp last year with more confidence and maturity. “I think it’s the best experience I will have in my life,” he shared. “Why? Because I had never seen so many amputees before.” He adds, “you can’t get made fun of there.”
“Camp has opened up a whole new world for him,” says dad Anthony. “I would even say there was a sense of joy in him because of the experience. He was also more confident.
Not just from going out on his own without his parents, which is huge. But also from finding support and love and compassion from people who have been through the same
experiences. I could never give those things to him.”
Kids attend Paddy Rossbach Amputee Camp for free, including transportation. For more about information, visit amputee-coalition.org.