Tyler teenager says amputee camp changed her life

Tyler teenager says amputee camp changed her life

TYLER (KYTX)-Whitney Hemphill is a sophomore at Robert E. Lee High School and she's even on the pom squad. She was born with a club foot and had to have her leg amputated when she was nine, but Hemphill says that couldn't stop her.

She has had sixteen surgeries including one that led to staff infection. With fundraising help from friends and family, Hemphill had her right leg removed from the knee down and got a prosthetic. She says it changed her life.

"I can run, I can climb up a rock wall, I can dance, I can do anything," Hemphill said.

Part of what has given her the confidence to embrace her new leg is the Amputee Coalition's youth summer camp. Hemphill celebrated her fifth summer there this year.

"It's really fun like if you go to this camp it feels like you're not the only one that's amputated, it feels like your family there," Hemphill said.

The camp is outside Cincinnati and is free for kids who've lost a limb. Hemphill's mom Erin Brown says she sees the changes in Whitney when she comes back from camp.

"The camp has really shown Whitney how to tell her story in a good way and how to use the awful things that happened to her, how to use them to be a better citizen," Brown said.

But Hemphill says life isn't always so easy as it is at camp.

"Some people do look at it and ask and sometimes people just stare at it and don't ask questions, and that makes me really upset," Hemphill said.

Though she has faced many challenges, she tries to remember how lucky she is to have a prosthetic.

"The main message is be powerful with it and be honest about your story and always always don't forget to be happy about it," Hemphill said.

Hemphill says she plans on going back to camp for many years because it's a place where she doesn't feel like an outsider.

The camp is sponsored by the Amputee Coalition.

Along with hosting the camp, the coalition helps families find doctors near where they live and offers other resources for amputees.



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