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Paralympian Superstar and Former Patient, Desmond, Goes for the Gold

Desmond, affectionately known as “Dez,” is the fastest above-knee amputee in the U.S. He currently holds the national record for the T42/T63 classification in the 100-meter dash. When he was 15, he was the youngest African American male to make the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Track & Field Team and compete in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Dez is also a former Shriners Hospitals for Children — Philadelphia patient. After being born with a congenital birth defect, Dez came to the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital, where his left leg was amputated above the knee. He received his first prosthetic leg and went through extensive rehabilitation until he was almost 4 years old.

Growing up, Dez was an extremely active kid who played basketball, football, soccer and baseball. He also rode horses. He later came across track & field when his mother found an adaptive athlete track meet in Virginia on a whim. At his first meet, Dez set several national and international records in his age group when he was only 9. He later moved to North Carolina, where he competed in middle school and high school track meets while also competing in IPC Word Championships and Parapan American Games.

Dez is currently a college senior earning his bachelor’s degree in sports management with a minor in business administration. After he graduates, he plans to get his master’s degree in business administration as he continues to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional athlete. Due to COVID-19, Dez is currently training at home for the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games, where he is hoping to win gold for Team USA!

Even though Dez does not remember much about his time at the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital, he knows without any doubt that the medical staff has helped him to improve his mobility tremendously, which allowed him to compete on an international stage as a Paralympian.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Shriners [Hospital] assistance,” said Dez. “I would not be able to run or weight-bear on my amputated side as well if it had not been for the outstanding services I received early on.”

Dez’s mother, Deborah, also credits her son’s success to her decision to go to Shriners Hospital for care when he was a baby.

“My experience was unforgettable,” said Deborah. “Even though I knew my son’s condition would end in amputation, I have never felt more supported throughout the entire journey. From the Shriners that picked us up at our house to the staff that walked me to the door of the operating room, I was assured along the way that I was making the right decision, and we were in the right place. Thank God for the Philadelphia Shriners Hospital.”


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