|Index Page||Carol Reese is known in
Orange County, California for her tireless dedication to
the physically and mentally challenged. Her full time job
at Rehabilitation Institute of Southern California (RIO),
as well as her free time center around this cause. As the
Assistant to RIOs Executive Director, Carol handles
fund raising and public relations, manages the reception
area and is the liaison to the auxiliary.
With the swirl of activity around her, few people stop to realize Carols own physical challenge. Her left leg was amputated below the knee in 1989.
Carol was born with spina bifida and a deformed foot that affected her ability to walk. But this never prevented her from living a normal, active life. When she was 25, however, she began suffering from illnesses and infections resulting from her legs lack of sensation. In 1989, after nearly 40 different operations, she and her physicians decided that amputation was the only possible course of treatment.
"When I woke up from the anesthesia I found I had already been fitted for my first artificial limb," Carol recalls. "But, the prosthetic socket didnt fit well enough and I began suffering a great deal of pain." She resorted to using a wheelchair. While wheeling around a local swap meet one weekend, Carol met a prosthetist from Sunny Hills Orthopedics. After Carol told Shahr Lopatin her story, he suggested she come to Sunny Hills because he knew they could get her out of the chair and walking -- pain-free.
Carol was so thrilled with the care and expertise of the Sunny Hills staff, today she stops people on the street to make sure they find their way to Sunny Hills.
"Carol is a good example of why its critical for each prosthesis to be custom designed for each patient, " explains Shahr. "For Carols particular lifestyle, we felt she would benefit from greater mobility and function with a lightweight, graphite pylon and multi-axial ankle with specialized foot componentry. Its really a state-of-the-art design. "
Carol testifies that she felt 100 percent better with her Sunny Hills prosthesis back then and still feels 100 percent today. "My prosthesis is comfortable and meets the needs of my active lifestyle and hectic work schedule. Most people have no idea I wear a prosthesis. Plus, I have to admit there is a vanity factor. I want it to be unnoticeable -- and it is."
Never take no for an answer is a philosophy Carol always follows. A few years ago, RIO was holding a fund raiser at Los Alamitos race track and Carol wanted to compete as a sulky driver. She got a "no" from everyone involved and insisted in meeting with the owner of the track. He was finally convinced and Carol became the first disabled woman ever to drive in a harness race at Los Alamitos.
Carol has two grown daughters and is a grandmother too. She also says that she loves to talk with amputees and others facing situations similar to hers.