Hello! My name is Donnie; I’m a congenital amputee of the right hand and foot. I was born in Eastern Kentucky, grew up in Southwest Virginia, and currently live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, just south of Nashville. I joined the list soon after it started when Bill invited me after reading one of my posts to another list. I keep a rather hectic schedule and don’t get to check my mail as often as I like, but I try to stay active and up-to-date on what’s going on.

I grew up in a very small town. Being in the heart of the Appalachians is a wonderful place to live, but it does tend to isolate the locals just a bit. As a result I didn’t have the opportunity to meet many other people with amputations, children or adult. There were a few, my elementary school Assistant Principal being the one I knew best, but no one I could really relate to.

The one thing that disturbed me most, however, was a particular visit to the Shriner’s Hospital in Lexington, KY. That particular day there was an older girl who had just gotten out of surgery. Both of her feet had been removed due to a farm accident. The doctors asked me to speak to her, to tell her what it was like to wear a prosthesis. They wanted me to assure her that she could still run and jump and play with the other kids. (They knew I was an active kid by the condition the prosthesis would be in each visit…I was hell on those things!) Mom and I met her out in the hallway and I showed her my leg and we talked for a while. I didn’t think much about her after that, but I would dream about that day every once in a while. I’ve just wanted to make people feel better ever since.

A few years ago my grandfather lost both of his legs and eventually his life to heart disease. I remember standing in the hospital by his bed after the amputation. He joked with me that I’d have to teach him how to walk with a wooden leg. I smiled and realized that I wanted to teach him, too. The fact that my family could deal with something like that as well as they did amazed me. It was then that I decided I wanted to help other families as well.

I am currently working towards a Master’s degree in Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University. I work as a Teaching assistant for the electronic journalism classes and have even taught some writing classes as well. Before coming back to school I worked as a Director at WJHL-TV 11 in Johnson City, directing newscasts and special projects. I was with the station for about 2 1/2 years. I’ve worked in broadcasting since 1991, when I started as a radio DJ during the summer.

Because of school I don’t always get to read every message posted to the list anymore. Thesis work and teaching just keep me away most of the time. But I do check my personal email regularly and would be glad to speak to any of you. I don’t know much about being a parent, but I’ve had a few years of being a kid. I’ll be more than happy to try and help any of y’all…just ask!