Together, Athletes with Disabilities Push Past Expectations at East Harlem Clinic

Athletes with disabilities came together Sunday for a special clinic in Manhattan to help them reach their physical goals. NY1's Matt McClure reports.

9-year-old Joshua Piperato has been through a lot in his young life. Two years ago, he fell while jumping on a trampoline.

His dad, Chris Piperato, says doctors originally thought he sprained his ankle, but it turned out to be much worse, requiring a 12-hour surgery.

"Within four hours of him coming out of that surgery, it wasn't successful," Chris Piperato said.

Surgeons eventually had to amputate Joshua's left leg above the knee.

"By the grace of God, you know, we're here today. He's a hundred percent!" Chris said about his son.

Joshua was one of nearly 40 athletes with disabilities at the Ossur Running and Mobility Clinic on Sunday in East Harlem.

The Challenged Athletes Foundation organizes several of the events across the country each year.

"Oftentimes people, medical professionals, or other folks might tell them they're not able to do something, and they get out here and realize that they can," said Dawna Callahan, an organizational member.

Professional trainers worked with amputees on proper techniques for running and playing sports.

"It's harder work than it is for an able-bodied person, but it's not impossible if you just really set your mind to it and give it a lot of time and commitment," participant Ariel Fishman said. "It can be done."

Athletes and organizers say not only do participants learn a lot at such events, but they also get a great sense of community by being around people who are going through similar challenges.

"I am a person with a disability," said Christopher Noel, the ADA Accessibility Coordinator for NYC Parks. "It's pretty cool for me, as well because it pushes me to see others doing well."

Organizers were also able to provide Joshua with a brand-new prosthesis at Sunday's clinic, free of charge.

"It does your heart good. I get paid to be out here. It's my job, but it's also my calling," said Chris Doerger, an Ossur clinical specialist. "That kind of thing is the reason we come out and do this every day."

"We might have lost our limb, but we didn't lose the rest of ourselves," said Jerome Singleton, an athlete mentor and Paralympian. "You have to embrace it."

And it's that kind of attitude that helps the athletes overcome whatever obstacles are in their way.

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