Group Publishing
Subscribe Button

Gilbert's Story: A Leg to Stand On

Craig DeMartino

Editor's Note: Children's Ministry Magazine staff photographer Craig DeMartino is an avid rock climber. Seven years ago while climbing he suffered a terrible fall, crashing nearly 100 feet to the rocks below. (You can read more about Craig's story here: As a result of his fall, doctors were forced to amputate his right leg below the knee. Craig took a special interest in Gilbert, a boy from Haiti, who also lost his leg. Read on to hear Gilbert's story and see the process of fitting him for a new leg. Read more and see a photo gallery here.


"If you can get him here, I think we can make a leg happen."

That's how I left it with Gary Falleson of Climbing for Christ. This climbing outreach organization based out of New York heads into the mountain ranges of the world, helping villages and pastors spread the gospel. Gary's team had recently come across a boy in Haiti who'd fallen off a roof. Gilbert, then 13, had fallen and broken his leg. There was no health care available, and the locals used voodoo to try to heal the boy. Infection quickly set in and it became evident that Gilbert would lose his leg.

craigclimbingDuring this time Gary's team as well as Miguel, Gilbert's teacher, were locked in prayer for the boy. Gilbert, observing the faithful around him, soon became a Christian. It wasn't much later that Gilbert's leg was amputated at the hip, known as a hemi, and the infection and pain quickly stabilized. When Gary left him, he was hobbling around on crutches in the mountains. After returning to the US, Gary approached me about finding a leg for Gilbert.

I never expected the team to actually pull off getting Gilbert here -- it seemed surreal-but when you realize God is pulling the strings, not man, you see things really begin to happen.

Joe Johnson of Quorum Orthopedics in Windsor, Colorado, volunteered his time and leg parts to help make Gilbert's leg. The process was slow due to the fact that Gilbert's amputation is so high. The leg needed to attach to his hips, and then drop down as a normal leg.

When Gilbert first saw the leg, he wasn't happy. We later learned that he thought he'd just slip into a human-looking leg, not a rod of metal. But as he started to walk almost the first day, his confidence-and his smile-grew. Already with the help of only one crutch he gets around really well.

The first thing I did, as an amputee myself, was to show Gilbert photos of me and my friends who'd also lost legs. As amputees, they were climbing and having fun. I felt like seeing that might give him an idea of the things he could do in the future. He responded with a sly little grin, revealing a long-delayed desire to just be a normal kid.

As we packed Gilbert with school supplies and clothes for the winter, I explained how to do basic repairs to his leg, as well as cleaning and taking care of himself and his stump. We posed for photos before saying goodbye, and I knew that although he has a long road ahead of him, Gilbert will do great.

Craig DeMartino

Read more and see additional photos here.

  • Page 1
Print Article Print Article Blog network
Copyright © 2014 by Group Publishing, Inc.