I have met an inspiring and talented young man recently with an incredible story which I'd like to share with you. When Damian Lopez Alfonso was a young boy living in Cuba, he liked to run around outside looking for kites that were stuck in trees. One day, he saw a kite stuck high in a power line. He tried to get it down with a metal pole but was severely electrocuted. His forearms were blown off and he sustained severe burns over his face and most of his body. Miraculously, he survived the accident, but was left without forearms and with severe deformities to his face. He has undergone an intensive rehabilitation course, receiving multiple reconstructive surgeries to rebuild his face.
One of the incredible things about Damian is that despite his injuries, he has become a very successful bicycle rider. He has raced throughout the world and competed in the 2012 Paralympics. Amazingly, he does not use any prostheses and has found a way to successfully control his bike using just his remaining upper arms.
Generous public support for Damian has funded his reconstructive surgeries in the US, most recently by Plastic Surgeon Dr. Oren Tepper at Montefiore Medical Center.
Now, Damian would like to help children who, like him, had severe injuries or deformities and now require extensive rehabilitation. Alyn Woldenberg Family Hospital of Jerusalem is a very unique pediatric hospital in Israel that solely focuses on the rehabilitation of children, many of whom were injured in terror attacks and car accidents. To show his support for the children of Alyn hospital, Damian plans on traveling to Israel this October to participate in Alyn Hospital’s fourteenth-annual “Wheels of Love” bike ride (www.alynride.org).
Every year, hundreds of bicycle riders from across the world gather in Israel to participate in a five- day bike ride to raise funds and show their support for the children of Alyn hospital. Children from the hospital are brought to the sidelines to cheer on the riders. As someone who faces many of the hardships that the children of Alyn are faced with, Damian wants to show these children that despite their injuries and disabilities, they too can do amazing things. As a strong global advocate for children with disabilities, I believe connecting Damian with children facing medical traumas in the State of Israel will be a particularly meaningful experience both through empowering the children of Alyn hospital and by having him become deeply aware of the tremendous work that Israel does for children with severe medical disorders. This experience is something that Damian can take with him as he continues his athletic career and his advocacy.
Every “Wheels of Love” rider is required to raise at least $2500 in donations supporting Alyn Hospital. We are looking for generous sponsors for Damian. To donate directly to Alyn Hospital, visit www.wolusa.org/Damian
Thank you so much!
All the best,