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Para triathlete and amputee Kyle Stepp, who received 3rd place this year in the US Para Triathlon which was held in Long Beach, CA, is an advocate for equity in sports. “Equality is that everyone can show up to a race. Equity is giving individuals the division they need, giving them the equipment or the extra time they need. That allows them to have equity in the sport. It’s a different perspective, we don’t naturally think about the difference between equality and equity,” he explains. “The way our culture thinks about sports and competition is from the angle of able bodied. I struggle with that word. My perspective is — I AM able because I have access to proper prostheses and equipment. The only thing that makes someone not able is if they don’t have access to the adaptive technology they need.”
Kyle believes sport culture is currently at a turning point and along with it, para sports is changing. Representation matters. When individuals with impairments see other athletes like themselves crushing it in their sport, they know there can be a life with sports for them after their accident or diagnosis.
Kyle credits the Click Medical RevoFit Kit for making a huge difference between being “able” or not. The RevoFit dial allows Kyle to adjust the fit of his prosthesis during the course of a race. “Being so active, my residual limb changes sizes,” he says.” My leg can fall off at the end of the day because I am so sweaty. My leg literally fell off during the national championships.
The adjustable technology allows you to unlock your freedom as an individual and allows you to adapt to YOU.
Prosthetists using Click Medical’s adjustable kits can create different pressure points or extra room for each unique person so individuals can maximize their mobility.”
Kyle’s journey in the adaptive world began in 2008 at the age of 14 when he went to his general practitioner for a lingering sports injury. The doctor suspected something else and ordered a battery of tests. Within 24 hours, Kyle was diagnosed with an aggressive form of osteosarcoma in his left leg. Often osteosarcoma is mistaken for an injury because both show the same symptoms – pain and inflammation. Surgeons removed a tumor along with several bones in Kyle’s leg, and he received an endoprosthesis in which metal rods replaced his tibia, knee and femur. He then went through a harsh regime of chemo.
Kyle was not initially told that a total limb amputation might be in his future. “My doctor told me If you take it easy, the metal implant will last forever and he made the analogy that if you drive your car or your bike a million miles, it will wear out. I knew then that there was a chance my body would reject the metal, or it would wear out and break.” As a teenager, he wanted a sense of normal. “I was in an identity crisis. I was coming to terms with my sexuality. And growing up in New Mexico, I had never seen another amputee. I masked everything. I didn’t want an amputation,” he says.
At college a few years later, Kyle met and became fast friends with Noah Elliot and Brenna Huckabee, both of whom had also experienced osteosarcoma. Brenna had already had her leg amputated and Noah went through his amputation during that time. “When I had my mountain bike accident in 2020, it was in the middle of Covid, and I was alone in the hospital. I couldn’t have any visitors so I FaceTimed Noah and Brenna, and from them I was able to get an understanding of how to navigate the next two years.” Kyle recalls feeling that the amputation was a new beginning; it marked the end to his annoying drop foot, which was due to nerve damage from the tumor and surgery, and had held him back in sports.
At first, in the months following his amputation Kyle had a horrible relationship with his prostheses and wouldn’t wear it, opting instead for crutches. “Looking back, I realize my prosthetic team did not know how to work with athletes. They had a one size fits all outlook. And when I challenged that thinking, they’d say, ‘That’s just the way it is’. But it was during that time that I first discovered swimming, which I could pursue without a prostheses,” he recalls. Kyle ended up discovering and transferring to prosthetist, Eric Neufeld, with Agile, who introduced him to Click Medical’s RevoFit Adjustability. “Click has enabled me to develop a sense of confidence and love for each unique sport in a triathlon.”
Kyle recently returned from climbing Ecuador’s 19,347 foot Cotopaxi with a team from ROMP (Range of Motion Project) an organization dedicated to providing prosthetic care to those without access to these services. His entire team of 20 climbers, including 7 amputees summited making ROMP history for the first full team to summit. Kyle returned home energized by learning more about equity in a new sport and his experience mountaineering for the first time.
Kyle is now training for international para triathlons with the support of coaches. Races start in March 2023 and the world championships are in November 2023. “I don’t have a depth of knowledge about my performance. I didn’t grow up in a family of athletes or in coached sports. I didn’t have access to those resources. Coaching will help me get on the same playing field. This is another form of Equity – access to resources and knowledge.”
Follow Kyle on his Instagram account to see where he will go next. We are huge fans and wish Kyle all of the love and support.
Curious if RevoFit adjustability is a good fit for you?
Whether you are new to limb loss or just learning about Click Medical’s adjustable technology, we invite you to connect with RevoFit® mentor, Lou Figueroa. Everyone’s journey is different and having a seasoned amputee to talk to is very helpful.
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