7 Emirates Run: They lost their legs but not their spirit
They lost their legs in bomb explosion, shark attack, motor accident and worksite accident. But these amputees have come together to show the world that there is nothing impossible.
Luiz Pradines, a 43-year-old Brazilian flight operations engineer with Emirates Airlines, ran for the first time in 32 years on Wednesday.
Having lost his left leg below the knee in an accident when he was 11 years old, Luiz could make it possible to run with the help of a prosthetic leg specially crafted for running.
Video by Juidin Bernarrd / Khaleej Times
"It is a wonderful feeling," Luiz said about his experience after the second day of his training session with German amputee sprinter and world champion in 100m sprint and long jump Heinrich Popow at the Dubai Health Care City on Thursday.
"In the beginning I felt some pain since I am activating some muscles which I do not make use of otherwise and it's a completely different sport that I'm not used to," said Luiz, who swims and cycles using the normal prosthetic leg that he wears regularly.
"Having a coach like Heinrich is important to give you a proper orientation. He is a wonderful coach and what he has helped me do is an amazing thing."
Luiz and five other amputees like him are being trained by Heinrich to enable them to participate in the inaugural leg of 7Emirates Run, an annual charity run that raises fund to help disabled children be back on their feet.
They lost their legs in bomb explosion, shark attack, motor accident and worksite accident. But these amputees have come together to show the world that there is nothing impossible if you put your heart into it and work hard.
The gust of wind that he could feel on his face when he ran for the first time after losing his right leg three years back made Palestinian Tareq Al Saqqa put a tick on one the topmost wishes of his life's wish list.
"I have been waiting for this moment for three years. It's not running ... I felt like flying," said the 29-year-old medical engineer.
"My disability has helped open my eyes to understand my abilities. So my message to people is to please smile, live your life, live the moment," said Tareq, who is also a motivational speaker.
For Zainab Al Eqabi, it was an old bomb left from Iraq war that took her left leg when she was just seven years old. The 25-year-old medical rep took off the cosmetic part of her prosthesis two years back to spread better awareness about the abilities of the disabled.
"People staring at me is fine, but I want them to understand people like me can also live a normal life and work like others. It's all about creating better mindsets."
Heinrich, who travels around the world as coach for Paralympics supporter Ottobock, echoed the same.
"It is the mindset that has to change first. And I think it is the beginning of a change here."
"When an amputee sees that a person using prosthesis can run, he will be motivated to do that. I'm just doing that by being here. It's not just about showing them how the prosthesis for running works, but more about showing them it is possible for them to run."
Mohammed Ayoub, a toddler with limb deformities who has benefitted from the 7Emirates Run, was also present with his parents.
Organisers of the run and providers of the running prosthesis Wendelin Lauxen and his wife Petra Steger of German Limb Tech Orthopedic Technology said it is a costly affair for child amputees to maintain and change their prostheses as they grow.
The run has collected over Dh1m so far. All proceeds go to Al Jalila Foundation which is now supporting five child amputees.
The run will begin from in Abu Dhabi and will cover 575km across the emirates before it ends in Dubai on the UAE National Day.
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