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Community unites to help USU student get new prosthetic leg

Published: Friday, May 4 2012 5:56 p.m. MDT

Kristie Christensen, 23, was born with her right leg shorter than her left. When she was young, she had part of her leg amputated. She is now hoping to get a high-tech computerized leg to give her more mobility, but it costs $20,000. Several fundraisers are being held to help her reach her goal.

Mike Anderson, Deseret News

LOGAN — A high-tech computerized leg could help a 23-year-old Kaysville woman do something she has never done before: run.

But the cost is $20,000, so family and friends are coming together to help make her wish come true.

With some extra effort, Utah State University student Kristie Christensen gets around much like anyone else. "When I am walking normally, my heart is working as much as someone who is running," she said.

She was born with a right femur that was too short and she was missing the tibia in her lower leg, which led to amputation. But a condition she's lived with her whole life could change dramatically thanks to a special prosthetic leg — the Plié 2.0.  

The Plié 2.0's integrated high-performance processing capabilities and a cutting-edge hydraulic system gives the amputee a more stable and more natural experience of mobility, according to Freedom Innovations, the creator of the artificial limb. 

She said it would be cool to be able to run, because “I like feeling the wind in my hair.”

Christensen started started to raise the $20,000 by selling wristbands. "It says, 'fearless, courageous and determined,'" Christensen said, showing off one of the bands. "And one of my really good friends told me that that was my personality."

Then fellow USU students started to pitch in. Friends with a knack for planning parties turned to organizing a fundraiser.

"We ended up raising about $800 for this little party that we thought was gonna be just a bunch of friends," said organizer Erin Taylor.

"I think everyone looks for someone to be inspired like that, and Kristie has been that inspiration," said Kaylee Andrus, who also helped with the event.

And while college friends were putting together fundraisers, friends and family back home were doing the same.

On her blog, Leg Up for Life, she wrote about her cousins, 9-year-old Hollie and 8-year-old Hailee, who were going to sell their toys, shoes and clothes to raise money for her leg. When Hollie was told how much the family needed the raise, she said, “Don’t worry, don’t worry. I will help.”

Christensen said hearing that put tears in her eyes and reminded her to be more childlike. Two weeks later the girls had set up a museum in Hollie’s room and charged 50 cents admission. They were donating all the money to Christensen.

"She's touched lives," said friend Sarah Schow. "I know she's been an inspiration to me."

With that goal inching closer, Christensen said it's hard not to imagine how life could be different. "Now that I know it's even more of a possibility, I want to try even more," she said.

Christensen also has several amputee friends. She hoped these fundraising efforts can continue, helping them get the Plié leg as well. Right now she is in the planning stages of a carnival at Davis High School, which she hopes to have on June 23.

Amp 1 Stand Up Amputee Basketball is also planning a fundraiser game for her, but no date has been set.

“Life keeps me going, really,” Christensen said. “Just being able to have my goals and accomplish them.”

E-mail: manderson@desnews.com, vvo-duc@ksl.com

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