OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The expression “Midwestern Nice” now stretches to the Middle East.
When a young man from overseas needed physical help, a metro-based nonprofit opened its heart. Now, this teenager will always have a piece of Kansas City.
It`s been a tough year of adjustment for 16-year-old Adam Salem, who is a native of the Gaza Region of Palestine.
Salem had been seeking a prosthesis since he was shot by Israeli soldiers last July. Salem, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, explained that he and his cousin were accused of throwing rocks and stirring up unrest, which he said he didn’t do.
Salem talked with FOX4 on Thursday. He speaks only Arabic, so use of a translator was necessary. He said the bullet wound developed gangrene, which resulted in the removal of his leg.
“Two months after the amputation, (Salem) stayed at home. He wasn’t talking to anyone. He was very depressed,” Salem said through a translator.
Kansas City-area nonprofit Steps of Faith helped bring Salem to Decker Integrated Orthotics and Prosthetics, a prosthetics maker in Overland Park. That group’s mission is to help people who can’t otherwise afford needed arms and legs.
The leg Salem is receiving normally costs around $15,000. He’s getting it at no cost.
Salem is staying with a host family in the metro while he’s being fitted. Another nonprofit helped him with travel expenses to make the 6,500-mile journey.
“There are too many people who need something like this. (Salem) is the lucky one. He’s very thankful,” Salem said through a translator.
“His control is going to come from his hip and strengthening up his core,” said Loren Decker, a licensed prosthetist.
Decker fits patients with new prosthetic legs and arms all the time. He’s also a board member with Steps of Faith.
“In this field, you get into it because you want to help people. You get to take someone whose life has been altered by an accident or disease and give them something back they think they’d lost. To do it for someone who wouldn’t otherwise have a leg is awesome,” Decker said.
Salem, like so many American teenagers, is a soccer fanatic. He should have his new leg within the next two weeks and said he’s anxious to play ball with his buddies back home as soon as possible and get back to being a normal kid.