Recent amputee spends day with Paralympian Jarryd Wallace

By Katie Branham | June 20, 2014, 2:43 p.m. (ET)
 Paralympian Jarryd Wallace and recent amputee Amit Vigoda at the track  & field stadium at the College of San Mateo track & field stadium

On the eve of the U.S. Paralympics Track & Field National Championships two-time IPC Athletics World Championships medalist Jarryd Wallace prepared for his final workout before his races. A handful of reporters and cameras followed Wallace around the track as he went through his warm-up. 

But as Wallace went through his drills and strides, the cameras weren’t focused on Wallace, all eyes were on an 11-year-old Amit Vigoda sitting on the sidelines.

Just as Wallace had to make the decision to have his right leg amputated after complications from a surgery, Vigoda made the choice to have his right leg amputated in April.

Vigoda was born with a rare condition called congential pseudarthrosis of the fibula and tibia, which causes weakness in the bones, resulting in numerous fractures that severely limited his mobility.

When Wallace learned that U.S. Paralympics had invited Vigoda to come out and attend the national championships, he jumped at the chance to show him around the track and introduce him to other Paralympic athletes.

Wallace’s 4x100-meter relay teammate Jerome Singleton offered Vigoda advice like an older brother stressing the importance of doing well in school and not being self-conscious about his prosthetic. But then he also let Vigoda in on some of the hidden advantages of being an amputee.

Jarryd Wallace going through his last workout at the College of San Mateo before the national championships

“I met another guy who doesn’t have a foot either, and he told me a lot of things,” Vigoda said. “The best thing he told me if I was ironing my clothes and the iron fell on my leg, it won’t hurt, so that makes us pretty cool.”

After spending the afternoon at the track, Wallace and Vigoda left the reporters behind and went out for frozen yogurt. When conversation turned to Vigoda being able to get his prosthetic leg fitted later this summer, Vigoda told Wallace he wasn’t planning on walking first, he wants to go straight to running.

Vigoda isn’t planning on this being a one-time meeting with Wallace. He is already begging his mother for his Bar Mitzvah gift to be a trip to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. 

“I want to go to the Paralympics to watch the wheelchair basketball games and see Jarryd run.”

Vigoda decided that after spectating in Rio he would be old enough in 2020 to make his Paralympic debut in Tokyo. 

For Wallace, mentoring Vigoda was just the next step of passing on the advice that was once given to him.
“David Prince and Jerome Singleton were two of the guys who were really influential to me when I was first getting started,” Wallace said. “They encouraged me to work hard in school, in track and in everything I was passionate about. One of the most important things they taught me was that the only limits I was going to have were the ones that I put on myself.”

Wallace is racing in the 200 and 100-meter races at the national championships, and he looked at spending the day with Vigoda as source of inspiration for the weekend.

“Getting to meet Amit and his family and seeing how passionate he is about the things he loves to do honestly encouraged me today just to continue to find joy and be happy in whatever circumstances you are in.”

When Wallace races the 100 on Saturday, he’ll be running for more than a national title. Vigoda will be waiting for him at the awards tent and he’s already told Wallace that he is expecting nothing less than gold.