Tonawanda News

The Town

April 26, 2013

Kenmore amputee runner sympathizes with Boston victims

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — The 14 Boston marathon victims who lost a limb after the bombings last week have a long, challenging road ahead of them. Although they were lucky enough to survive, they’ll have to endure years of therapy to relearn how to stand and walk. 

Local runner Kevin Degnan said his experience was not as traumatic as the Boston victims’ — but as an amputee, he knows what they are going through. 

Degnan, of Kenmore, was hit by a car in 1986 while he was on the Canisius College track team, and his lower left leg was damaged severely from the accident. Over the years, Degnan underwent 14 different surgeries and he was constantly fighting infection. 

“I had continuous degenerate problems in my leg, and eventually, in 2010, my doctors and I decided we had to remove it,” he said. “It was definitely the hardest decision of my life.”

But despite the emotional experience of losing his leg, Degnan woke up from surgery determined to run again. 

“I didn’t listen to any limitations. Sometimes, you just have to experiment yourself,” he said.

After Degnan was released from Erie County Medical Center, he was transferred to the subacute facility on the Kenmore Mercy campus, and then became an outpatient at Catholic Health’s Athleticare.

With the help of Athleticare’s manager and physical therapist, Joe Baumgarden, Degnan slowly began to stand and walk with the help of his prosthetic leg. 

“Sometimes, it can feel like you are moving backwards, but you are strengthening with that, too,” he said. “One day, you’re able to put on the leg and stand — even if it’s only for a second. A few days later, you can take a few steps.”

Three months after his surgery, Degnan was running again. Three months later, he ran in a 5k race — and he’s ran in seven more since then.

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