A Special Opportunity To Say Thanks: Sharon’s Story Part II of II

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It’s not everyday you get the chance to meet the talented people behind a product which will make such a positive difference in your life.

This Fall, thanks to Ottobock I was actually given this amazing opportunity. I was invited to attend the 2013 AOPA conference. This was such a memorable event for so many reasons. In three days I was able to meet so many of the people directly involved in the design of the C-Brace. I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to thank these talented people face to face. I imagine how rewarding it must have been for them to meet people who have benefited from their talented work.

Sharon at AOPA
Sharon on the AOPA trade show floor in the Ottobock booth

When I had just settled in at the hotel and was walking with my spouse into the hotel atrium, a smiling gentleman stopped us, handed me his business card and introduced himself as Scott Schneider the President of North American Ottobock. He had noticed my C-Brace and proceeded to introduce me to the gentleman who was standing with him, as the C-Brace inventor. I found myself speechless at first but I thanked him and shook his hand then asked him for a favor. He graciously accepted. I asked him if I could give him a hug; we shared an embrace. What else can you say to someone who has invented a product that will make such a huge difference in your ability to walk? Little did I know that soon I would meet additional members of the Ottobock C-Brace team. Fortunately, I was able to have several photos taken with many of the team members behind the C-Brace which I treasure.

I also had the surprise opportunity, thanks to Kelly Clark from Ottobock, to speak to a group regarding my experience with the C-Brace. Through my off the cuff speech I hope I was able to show a personal perspective why the C-Brace should be made available to others; along with sharing my appreciation to be able to wear the C-Brace in part thanks to my amazing orthotist, Jeff Pitler from Hanger who was the first person to find the C-Brace and start the process of testing if this was the product for me. Often as I made my way through the hotel I was stopped by people who had heard me speak; they shared how lucky they felt to have been able to hear me speak and that I had shown them the true heart of the C-Brace’s impact on one’s life.

During the conference I got to meet so many inspiring people from all over the world. I met many people who were benefitting from a brace or other aid. I got to talk to so many wonderful people and see them use their prostheses. I also got to see many examples of the ever expanding technology being applied to a wide variety of orthotics and prostheses.

Sharon in her C-Brace
Sharon in her C-Brace

While in the exhibit hall I was able to answer questions, model how the C-Brace helps me to walk and speak with many people regarding my experience with the C-Brace.  I was excited to meet a gentleman who also used the C-Brace. He wore a C-brace on each leg. I enjoyed hearing about his experience and sharing my experience with the C-brace.  I nicknamed him Superman because of the way he seemed to glide easily up and down a ramp and stairs; something I was in the process of learning. He shared such an importance piece of advice that I still remember each day, he told me to let go and trust the brace to be there for me.

Also, thanks to Ottobock bringing the test C-Brace; I got to see people use the C-Brace (who didn’t need one). I could not stop smiling as I watched person after person experience what the C-Brace does as they walked up and down a ramp and stairs. –

I was reminded of my initial experience with the test C-Brace. At first sight the test C-brace was a bit shocking with its large size, weight and “Transformer” like appearance. I was shocked and thought I could never wear that, I work in early childhood education! There were too many sharp edges and places little ones could pinch their fingers! But, I was quickly informed that the actual C-Brace would look nothing like the test brace. That was a relief.

I will always remember my first step down a stair while using the test C-Brace. Kelly Clark from Ottobock was standing in front of me and I was standing on top of a practice stair. He requested a simple action of me…that I step down using the leg with the C-Brace first. I told him that was something I couldn’t do. It had been ten years since I had been able to walk down stairs alternating feet one per stair. My first attempt I tried but held the majority of my weight by tightly grasping the parallel bars. After reassuring me numerous times that he could catch me, I tried. The test C-Brace worked! I was shocked and my eyes filled with tears of joy as I was able to complete this simple but amazing task. After several more trial steps down I announced, that I was all in! I was willing and ready to do whatever it took to learn how to use the C-Brace. –

C-Brace
C-Brace

In the exhibit hall and around the hotel I was so pleased to be able to model how I used the C-Brace and to share that although I was a very recent C-Brace recipient I did still have limitations due to the past ten years of me walking with a brace that did not provide reliable support. I was so happy to speak with conference attendees as I walked through the conference exhibit hall and hotel. Each person I spoke to was so kind, respectful and genuinely interested in learning about the C-Brace and also my experience.

I am truly grateful to have had the chance to attend the AOPA Conference to represent the C-Brace and model its capabilities. I look forward to continuing to grow in confidence with the C-Brace and learning to let go and trust the brace to be there for me.

At AOPA with the Ottobock Team
At AOPA with the Ottobock Team

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