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Khaalid’s Memorable Finish Leads to an Exciting Start for Prosthetic Patients of Shriners Children’s

Khaalid with David McGillivray

Khaalid at the finish line of the Boston Marathon with race director, Dave McGillivray, founder of Dave McGillivray's Finish Strong Foundation (DMFS).

Seventeen-year-old Khaalid was overwhelmed by the excitement surrounding him as he crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

He ran alongside the race’s director and well-known philanthropist David McGillivray, who was completing his 50th consecutive Boston Marathon on April 18, 2022. “It’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Khaalid.

Khaalid is a bilateral amputee and wears below knee prosthetics. As a patient of Shriners Children’s, he was gifted running blades through the organization’s partnership with The Dave McGillivray Finish Strong Foundation (DMFS), which aims to provide pediatric amputees with prosthetic running devices. McGillivray, who runs the marathon course after the race in the evening, invited Khaalid to finish the marathon with him wearing the blades. The momentous moment marked the start of a new beginning for Khaalid and other prosthetic patients of Shriners Children’s.

DMFS has been working with Levitate, a blade manufacturer based in Denmark, and Shriners Children’s to distribute blades. So far, patients in Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah and Springfield, Massachusetts, where Khaalid is a patient, have been fitted for blades.

“Running blades allow amputees to not only run, but to participate in higher-level activities, sports and overall recreation,” said JoAnne L. Kanas, D.P.T., CPO, corporate director of orthotics and prosthetics for Shriners Children’s. “The ‘blade’ compresses with weight bearing, until the blade is unweighted to propel the runner forward. There are no electronics, just biomechanics.”

Shriners Children’s Pediatric Orthotics and Prosthetics Services, LLC (POPS) designs, fits and manufactures orthotics and prosthetic devices for infants to young adults. POPS is onsite at every Shriners Children’s location, making this a great fit with DMFS.

Khaalid was grateful to be one of the first patients to receive blades though the foundation.

Khaalid has been a patient of Shriners Children’s New England, located in Springfield, since he was an infant. Born with a serious deformity of his fibula bone, Khaalid’s family moved from Sri Lanka to Amherst, Massachusetts, to receive care for him in Springfield. At 8 months old, his right foot was amputated. Khaalid’s left lower leg had partial fibular deficiency (shortening or absence of the fibula bone) and he underwent multiple treatments to align the foot into proper position, but Khaalid was still experiencing pain. At age 12, his providers at Shriners Children’s New England said amputation of his left foot was an option. Khaalid’s parents involved him in this important decision, and he chose amputation. Always an active child, as a bilateral amputee, Khaalid became more involved in sports, including basketball and swimming.

It was during an appointment with his prosthetist, Brock McConkey, CPO, at Shriners Children’s New England, that Khaalid shared his interest in trying out for his high school’s track team. “Khaalid’s desire to compete, coupled with his positive outlook, is why I chose him to be among the first to receive the blades,” said McConkey, who was there as his patient crossed the finish line in Boston.

After this unforgettable experience, Khaalid is excited for the start of the track season and more memorable beginnings for other prosthetic patients made possible by Shriners Children’s and The Dave McGillivray Finish Strong Foundation.

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