Amputee An Inspiration To Others

Dave Price introduces us to a young man who lost three limbs when he was run over by a train. But he was determined to walk again and now serves as an inspiration to other amputees. The Early Show series My New Life profiles people who have gone through dramatic life changes.

On a perfect California day at the beach, Cameron Clapp is just an ordinary kid, loping across the sand. But if you take a closer look, you'll realize that nothing about Cameron is ordinary: his legs, his arms or his life.

Cameron was born 19 years ago, and from an early age he was strong and athletic. And as he grew older, he was popular with the girls.

He also liked to party, and one night in September 2001, he went at it especially hard.

"I was fooling around, going to different locations, partying with some friends having a good time," Cameron remembers.

He ended up at a house near the train tracks and at one point that night, Cameron left the party and headed toward them.

Cameron either walked up and sat down, or walked up and collapsed on the tracks. Whatever happened, it was pitch black, early in the morning and Cameron says he didn't even hear the train coming.

The train rolled over Cameron. The conductor called 911 and the police called his parents.

"I think I let out a pretty blood curdling scream and I don't remember anything except getting in the car and going to the hospital," says his mom, Berny Crane.

"They told us nothing of his condition for three hours other than he was probably going to die," recalls Cameron's stepfather Bill Crane.

Cameron's injuries were horrific. His right arm was gone, and both legs were severed above the knee. The prognosis was grim.

"At first one of the professionals said he wouldn't be walking a lot, maybe special occasions like graduation, but most of the time in a wheelchair and we're just like, 'We don't know anything about amputations, we don't know anything about prosthetics but what we do know is Cameron,'" says Berny Crane.

As it turns out, not even Cameron knew how strong he could be. On the day he was fitted for his first pair of artificial legs, he left his wheelchair for good. And after he taught himself how to walk again, the people at Hanger Orthopedics in Oklahoma City helped fit him with a pair of computer-controlled legs.

"We have bionic legs right here. These are very high tech," says Cameron.

His new legs are so advanced that Cameron can do things most amputees only dream of. But the legs are only as good as the person who wears them and Cameron was determined to push them as far as they would go.

He taught himself to run on special feet and began to compete in events for athletes with physical disabilities. With the right attachments, Cameron can even swim.

He also works with other amputees to show them that losing a limb is not the end of the world. In a few short years, Cameron has transformed himself from a crippled teen into a walking inspiration.

"Of course I miss my arm and my legs and stuff but I don't dwell on it or get upset about anything. Just going to do what I need to do to be myself and be happy," says Cameron.

Even as a triple amputee, it seems that the only thing Cameron Clapp can't do is feel sorry for himself.

"I honestly can say that I would rather be the way that I am," says Cameron. "And I'm totally happy - than to be that guy down on the beach. He's having a good time and so am I. Life is good."

Cameron has also worked with soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He says his dream is to spend his life helping other amputees.
  • Daniel Schorn

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