2013 Patients of Courage
As Molly Bloom stepped into a Hummer limousine on prom night 2006, the driver accidentally pulled away, dragging Bloom's left leg under the vehicle for more than 40 feet. The life threatening injury required amputation of her left leg, hip and the left half of her pelvis. After nearly 20 intensive surgeries, Bloom began immersing herself in adaptive athletics, sports for people with disabilities. Bloom played for the Denver Women's Rolling Nuggets wheelchair basketball team, where she helped the team win the 2011 National Championship title. She currently works with Wheelchair Athletes Worldwide, a non-profit that brings wheelchair sports to countries where access is limited. Molly has dedicated her current graduate studies to researching the role of the disability community in the lives of disabled people. In 2007, Molly and her family established the Bloom Again Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides grants for equipment or activities for individuals with disabilities who want to enhance their recovery through physical activities and sports.
At just 18 years old, Emily Keefner has endured more than 30 reconstructive procedures to correct a bilateral cleft lip and palate deformity. She has been a patient of the Craniofacial Clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center since she was born, and is now giving back to the institution that has treated her since birth. Emily has raised $8,000 towards a $50,000 multidisciplinary database for the Clinic which will allow them to track patient outcomes, national trials, and provide consistent outreach. She has three more fundraisers planned, has garnered political support in the region and is looking to change payment laws in New York. Emily has contributed more than 500 hours of volunteering for the Clinic, her local food pantry, the fire department and the Berkshire Humane Society. She is a member of the Fireman's Association of the State of New York, a certified first responder and an excellent flutist-a particularly difficult instrument for a cleft palate patient.
NFL Rookie Carson Tinker had a long, challenging road to making the Jacksonville Jaguars football team this summer. While in college, Carson, a long snapper for the Alabama Crimson Tide, sustained a serious soft tissue injury to his right leg in the 2011 Tuscaloosa tornado that took the life of his girlfriend. A traditional flap repair would have jeopardized Carson's football career, so his plastic surgeon performed wound therapy, dressing changes and an off label use of a graft product to help him heal with minimal defect. Following the tornado, Carson and the Crimson Tide served as examples of the strength and spirit required to rebuild devastated lives and communities. Carson led his team to two consecutive national championship titles and says, "You are not defined by your circumstances or adversity. You are defined by how you respond to them." Carson works tirelessly as a motivational speaker around the country and participates in countless fundraisers. His autobiography is due out next spring.