The following are just a few remarkable people whose lives have been dramatically improved by Operation Walk Denver. There are hundreds more like them; each with their own amazing story of restored hope after years of suffering. With your support, we will continue to provide the same improved mobility and joy of life to less-fortunate people in developing countries for years to come.
Bety Overcomes Her Past
Bety has lived with a bullet in her hip for 18 years. At last, thanks to our generous Operation Walk Denver donors, she's pain free and bullet free!
Read more about Bety
A single mom of three boys, Bety faced a lot of challenges - and one of the most constant was the pain in her hip.
Walking short distances was a challenge for her, and climbing stairs was out of the question - all because a jealous boyfriend shot her in the hip when she was 16 years old.
Despite the pain, Bety has done her best to raise her sons well. It has been a struggle, and she's had to rely on family and friends more than she'd like because she hasn't been able to find work that would accommodate her disability.
Today, that's no longer the case.
Thanks to generous donors, the Operation Walk Denver team traveled to Honduras to perform free joint replacements for those who, like Bety, couldn't walk and couldn't afford the care they needed.
In most cases, the team operates on patients with severe forms of arthritis. Often they have been struggling for years, fighting the pain of deteriorating joints. Bety's story was a little different, and the surgery not only gave her the ability to walk again, but it gave her a sense of closure.
After Dr. Todd Miner performed the surgery, he saved the bullet to give to Bety. It represents a chapter of her life that's over.
Bety is no longer in constant pain. She's able to work to support her family, and she's looking forward now, not backward. She has a future to celebrate all because people like you chose to give generously to change lives like hers.
Jhony Can't Stop Smiling
37-year-old Jhony suffered from arthritis since he was eight years old, and it wasn't until the Operation Walk Denver team came to Honduras that he had hope of being healed.
Read more about Jhony
We met Jhony sitting outside the hospital with his wife of 20 years.
They had arrived a day earlier than scheduled from Port Tela, Honduras, just to make sure Jhony would not miss the opportunity to be considered for a total hip replacement.
His smile was the first thing I noticed.
Then I saw the crutches.
When he stood up, Jhony cautiously placed all his weight on his left leg, keeping his right foot off the ground. He had sever arthritis in his right hip as a result of something called Legg-Calve-Perthes disease.
Legg-Calve-Perthes disease is a childhood hip disorder. It causes a disruption of the blood flow to the ball of the femur, called the femoral head. And when there's no blood flow, the bone dies (known as osteonecrosis or avascular necrosis) and stops growing.
For most with this disease, degenerative arthritis of the hip begins at an early age. A total hip replacement is the only treatment once the joint has lost its cartilage protection and developed severe arthritis.
Jhony's problems began when he was just eight years old.
The symptoms of severe arthritis that Jhony was experiencing were constant pain, stiffness, extreme pain at night that kept him from sleeping, and the inability to move or rotate his leg.
"All this time, the pain is very hard," Jhony said. His only wish is to be able to "leave the pain."
Jhony is a math professor. He taught math in high school for several years until the loss of movement in his legs and that constant pain made it simply impossible to keep standing in front of a chalkboard.
For Jhony, it was heartbreaking not to be able to support his family.
Yet, in spite of his frustrations and pains, he kept smiling. And when he was selected for surgery by the Operation Walk Denver team, his smile grew even wider.
After his total hip replacement on his right side, Jhony was up and walking as soon as he was cleared to try. Testing out his new hip in the halls of the hospital, he couldn't help but share a grin with everyone he passed.
Jhony's grateful that he'll be able ti support his wife, two sons, and daughter again. And he looks forward to getting back in the classroom to teach his favorite subject.
About a month after his surgery, Jhony took the time to post a photo and message on the OpWalk Facebook page. He writes, "I am a happy man and feel like a new man. The pain is gone and little by little I am walking better every day. Thank you and God bless all of you, today and every day!"
By Peggy Kettler, Colorado Joint Replacement Outcomes Coordinator
Tita will dance again
Her knees were arthritic; her legs twisted. Every movement brought pain. Yet, Samuel's grandmother still raised him since he was a boy.
READ MORE ABOUT SAMUEL's GRANDMOTHER
My grandma (I call her Tita) loves to dance. But until just a few weeks ago, she was unable to even walk.
Age caught up with her bones, and she had rheumatoid arthritis. She thought her dancing days were gone.
This broke my heart, because Tita is one of my favorite people in the world. She raised me, she’s still there for anything I need, and she’s the one person who can always cheer me up — even when she couldn’t walk.
So, when my aunt, who works at the hospital here near my home, told us about Operation Walk Denver coming here to our city in Panama, we both got excited! Tita had been waiting for three years to try to get surgery on her knees. At last, she would be able to!
My aunt also told me that they were looking for volunteers to help translate. I was happy to do so. Not only did it sound fun to meet new people and practice my English, but I would get to help the people who would be helping my Tita.
I had no idea just how much I would enjoy it.
From the first day I went to help, the day before Tita’s surgery, I loved it. This was the first time I’d done something like this, and I was surprised at how heartwarming and awesome it was just to spend time with the patients and the OpWalk team and help them.
I tried to talk with every patient there and learn from them. One that I really connected with was Yadira. She was such fun to talk with, and we’re staying in touch!
I also made friends with many of the volunteers, and I plan to help again the next time they come to Panama.
They really changed my life. After this experience, being able to help people is really important to me.
Of course, every person I met and translated for inspired me. But when it was time for Tita to have her surgery, I’m not sure who was more excited — me or her.
Everything went well, and I was able to be there for her, like she’s done for me so many times.
Then seeing her begin to be able to walk again was amazing! It took her a little over a week to recover from the operation, but now she can walk and the pain is nearly gone.
I’m looking forward to seeing her dance again soon.
This is all because of Operation Walk and people like you who are giving to support their work. So, I want to say THANK YOU.
This means so much to me, to Tita, and to each person here who is walking for the first time in years, or even decades, because of you.
By Samuel Valdelamar, Volunteer Translator, Panama City, Panama