Armless boy aims to raise $1.2m for Boston marathon victims

SINGAPORE - This 13-year-old can easily identify with those who lost their limbs in the aftermath of the Boston marathon bombing.

Michael Stolzenberg is a quadruple amputee - the fallout of a abdominal infection which led to a medically induced coma and then amputation when the infection spread.

That happened when he was eight years old.

Now he and his brother Harris, 17, of Florida, are doing their bit to help the bombing victims, reported the Daily Mail. They plan to raise US$1 million (S$1.24 million) for the victims. Harris will run next year's Boston Marathon and together they hope to help pay for prosthetics for the 13 people who lost all or part of a limb, the report said.

When Michael heard that the victims would lost limbs, he had a good idea of the torment each would face.

"First, they will be sad," he told Florida newspaper Sun Sentinel. "They are losing something they will never get back, and it's scary. I was scared. But they'll be okay. They just don't know that yet."

Community support

Said Harris: "After the Boston Marathon bombings, we wanted to do something to help because there are going to be a lot of new amputees, and just like after our community rallied around Michael, we wanted to do something to help them."

The brothers and one of Harris' friends, who will be joining him at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have designed a website named mikeysrun.com, aimed at supporting those who have suffered amputations.

As of Tuesday night, they had raised more than US$10,400, about one per cent of their target, Sun Sentinel reported.

He said their friends and family had helped them raise the money to pay for the four prosthetics that Michael needed following the unexpected amputations.

Wrote Harris of his brother: "His mental fortitude carried him through his challenges, but he couldn't have done it without the overwhelming support of our community.

"The prostheses he needed cost thousands of dollars, which we wouldn't have been able to afford without that support." Michael has been able to continue to thrive on the lacrosse field, playing competitively at school. Even without wearing the prosthetic arms, which he finds limiting and cumbersome, he is able to type and use his iPhone.

"He has an upbeat perception of life," said Pine Crest School's lacrosse coach Doug Shanahan. "He does well because he does not think he's handicapped."

Said Michael, who hopes to visit Boston and the amputees: "I always had a thing in my head that there was a reason why each of us is on the planet. Maybe I should be here to help others."


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