The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday January 19th

Club helps kid amputees run, swim

Tolson Jeffrey (left) and Abby Mueller are the founders of a new student group, Best Foot Forward, which aims to raise money for prosthetics for amputees.
Buy Photos Tolson Jeffrey (left) and Abby Mueller are the founders of a new student group, Best Foot Forward, which aims to raise money for prosthetics for amputees.

The student organization aims to provide lower-limb amputee children with more than just the walking legs covered by insurance.

First-years Abby Mueller and Tolson Jeffrey, the co-founders of the organization, met living next door to each other in Granville Towers this year.

“I am an amputee myself, and (Jeffrey) wants to be a prosthetist, so we bonded over that fact,” Mueller said.

Considering the walking legs provided by insurance companies do not allow amputee children to swim or run, the two came up with the idea of starting a charity to raise money for amputee children in late February or early March, she said.

She said starting in fall 2016, Carolina Best Foot Forward plans on fundraising in order to give out at least one grant to pay for an amputee child’s new limb.

“I’ve been an amputee for four years, and since then I’ve been exposed to how things go on in the insurance industry and how people don’t get limbs they deserve,” Mueller said.

“We are trying to focus on the younger ones — the kids that have gone through trauma. Because even though they make up a smaller portion of the amputee population, it’s more important that a child gets the experience that normal kids get.”

The members wants to reach out to hospitals specifically in the Triangle area, said first-year Sophie Whisnant, the vice president of publicity for Carolina Best Foot Forward.

“I think that it keeps everything more personal — starting off small and just really getting started,” Whisnant said. “It keeps things close to home.”

Carolina Best Foot Forward currently has around 40 members. The organization is trying to raise enough money to get recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. According to the group’s GoFundMe campaign page, the process costs around $800.

Sophomore Lea Kokenes said she donated money to Carolina Best Foot Forward because she believes in the work Mueller is doing.

“Abby is my ‘little’ in my sorority,” Kokenes said. “The way that she’s taken her situation is just so positive.”

Kokenes said she hopes Carolina Best Foot Forward gets recognized as a nonprofit organization.

As of publication time, $647 out of the $800 goal had been raised.

Jeffrey said he anticipates Carolina Best Foot Forward growing as a club.

“It’s going to have a really good base, especially if we can get the nonprofit organization stuff done by next year,” Jeffrey said. “People will realize that we are a credible organization and that we are actually trying to do something good here. And it’s just not a simple club on campus that students are in to try to build resumes. I hope this becomes helpful to people who need it.”


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