Representation doesn’t only matter in films and television, it can go a long way in real life too.
Blake Leeper is an eight-time Paralympic track and field international medalist. He has used prosthetics since he was 9 months old after he was born with both his limbs missing below the knee.
Leeper happened to be at Scott Sabolich, a prosthetic facility, when 2-year-old KJ was using his walking prosthetic for the first time.
“We were getting our legs worked on at the same time. Me [and] my running legs for the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics and KJ’s first walking leg,” Leeper told In The Know. “It was his first time trying it on.”
“I got my legs on now. I’m ready! I’m ready for you,” Leeper said to KJ.
KJ used a walker with his new prosthetic leg to slowly make his way down a long hallway where Leeper waited on the other side. The athlete cheered the little one on as he got into the groove of his gait.
Then Leeper walked beside KJ and compared their legs.
“Mine looks like yours a little bit,” Leeper told KJ who was nothing but smiles and giggles. “Are you ready?”
Then Leeper and KJ made their way down the hallway together.
“Step by step by step,” Leeper said as he coached the toddler. “Come on!”
Unsurprisingly, when Leeper discovered KJ’s room was down the hall from his at the facility, the athlete made it a point to stop by.
“I had to step out to meet him and give him some words of encouragement,” Leeper explained to In The Know. “Just to let him know that he wasn’t alone. At two years old I’m sure he didn’t understand my words that much but he definitely could tell I had legs like him and that we were the same.”
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