Reynoldsburg News

Group's founder hopes to motivate fellow amputees

Robert Haas, who lost his leg while serving in the military, wants others to find the support he did not

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Dozens of people joined the ranks of amputees April 15 when first one and then another terrorist bomb exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Robert Haas knows what they face.

The Clintonville resident lost his lower left leg after being severely injured July 3, 2012, while serving in the U.S. Naval Reserves in the Indian Ocean.

He underwent surgery, recovered, entered rehabilitation and, in January, was fitted with a prosthetic leg, all without ever once having had contact with someone who had been through the same experience.

"When you go through this, you want to talk to other amputees, because you have a lot of questions," Haas said last week.

"I will not let this happen to another person in central Ohio," he said.

To make good on that vow, the former owner of Scottie MacBean Cafe has started the Amputee Recreational Support Group for Central Ohio.

Working in partnership with Columbus' Therapeutic Recreation Program in the Franklin Park Indoor Adventure Center, the Mount Carmel Limb Loss Support Group and Adaptive Sports Programs of Ohio, the organization's goal is to encourage people who have lost an arm or leg to military service, traffic or industrial accident, disease or, as was so recently made clear, terrorist attacks to remain as active as they can possibly be.

In other words, Haas said, "to get off the couch and back into a recreational lifestyle."

Haas makes a distinction between recreation and sports programs for people with physical disabilities, of which there are a goodly number in the Columbus area.

"Those people are already motivated," Haas said.

"Unfortunately, a majority of the people who become disabled, whether it's an auto accident or diabetes or service-related like me, change their lives to the negative," he said.

"They don't see themselves as active participants anymore.

"For the most part, they live a very sedentary, private life."

The purpose of the group, Haas said, is to motivate these people to become more active through moderate recreational and social proactive activities, such as nature walks in local parks -- "stuff that's fun, like when you were a kid and wanted to go out and play."

"Recreation is non-structured athletic fun," he added.

Haas said once members become more active, if they desire, they will be introduced to more aggressive sports and team activities promoted and organized by the Adaptive Sports Programs of Ohio and other groups.

He emphasized the support group, which is affiliated with the Amputee Coalition of America, is open to all amputees from the region.

"A lot of the amputees are young people," he said. "You'd be surprised how many (are) from motorcycle accidents -- that's a biggie.

"This is open to all ages. People think that once they hit 50, they can't do this stuff. Most of our members are over 50."

Haas has adapted sufficiently to his new prosthesis that he was able to run a 5K race April 20.

"It meant the world," he said.

"When I was in the hospital losing my leg, I had no preparation," Haas said.

"You go from being independent to being dependent. Then you have to start learn how to live life with an artificial limb.

"You'll be surprised by what the body can do," he said.

The next meeting of the Amputee Recreational Support Group is set from 9:30 to 11 a.m. May 11 at the Franklin Park Adventure Center, 1755 E. Main St.

A light breakfast will be provided by Capital Prosthetics. Mary Beth Moore, therapeutic recreation manager for the city's Recreation and Parks Department, will speak.

For more information, call Haas at 614-288-5105.

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