Cameron Clapp’s journey–or metamorphosis, as he calls it—began at age 15.
On September 15, 2001, Cameron, his twin brother, and some friends set up a memorial to commemorate the victims of the 9/11 terror attack. To cope with their emotions following the tragedy, the group began to drink heavily. Later that evening, Cameron strayed from the group and fell asleep on nearby railroad tracks where he was hit by a freight train. When he finally awoke, he was in the hospital, and instinctively knew his legs, and right arm were missing. Cameron endured a traumatic amputation that most people would not have survived.
Drawing from Experience
Cameron’s journey with limb loss was not an easy one, and he quickly learned to rely on a wheelchair for mobility. Things took a turn when he attended a Hanger Clinic Education Fair in 2002 where he met Hanger Clinic Vice President of Prosthetics, Kevin Carroll, CP, FAAOP. Along with his team, Kevin developed a program that included intermediate tasks that would help Cameron learn to walk independently. By starting with stubbies (short legs without knee joints) and slowly graduating to more advanced prosthetics, Cameron gradually built the strength to walk again on his own.
“I had to find my own way. It was tough at first because I didn’t have the right mindset. It took about two years until I was fully confident and proficient in prosthetics,” he said.
Nothing Stands in Cameron's Way
Prior to his accident, Cameron enjoyed an active lifestyle in California, and he worked hard to continue doing the things he loved.
“My approach is to adapt myself to the world, not the world adapting to me, so I rely heavily on prosthetics. I’m not going to wake up and have my biological arms and legs back, but I have come to understand that, with prosthetic technology, a team of specialists, the recovery protocol, peer support and mentors, and personal motivation and positive attitude, it is possible to overcome your obstacles.”
In 2002, he participated in the University of Central Oklahoma’s Endeavor Games. Since then, he has won numerous gold and silver medals, including his performance in a 20 lap swim and completing a 100-meter run in as little as 18 seconds. He was later named the Endeavor Games Senior Athlete of the Year in 2007.
Amongst his many athletic accomplishments, Cameron has also participated in the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) San Diego Triathlon Challenge, the California Wildfire Triathlon, the U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing Championships, the Operation Surf Volunteer Program for injured service members, the Breckenridge DSUSA Ski Spectacular, and the Track and Field Paralympic Trials in 2015.
Now at age 31, Cameron has made it his mission to empower other amputees that may be facing the same uncertainty he once faced. His passion for helping others is even driving his career path. Today, Cameron is a Community Care Coordinator at Hanger Clinic, patient advocate, and an Amputee Coalition Certified Peer Mentor. He is currently working toward a bachelor’s degree and aims for a master’s in sociology.
Having worked with countless bilateral amputees at Camp No Limits, Endeavor Games, Hanger Clinic’s Above-Knee Bilateral Bootcamp, and other amputee conferences, Cameron understands the importance of having a good support team and wants to help amputees navigate this new way of life.
“When I meet a new amputee at a camp or an event, I congratulate them for surviving and welcome them to the ‘club.’ It’s about reassuring them that as tough or difficult as it might seem, there are people by their side to help. It’s not the end of the world; it’s a new beginning.”
In addition to his efforts as a patient advocate and mentor, Cameron is also a motivational speaker and an actor who has appeared in HBO’s “Carnivàle,” “My Name is Earl,” “Stop Loss,” and “Workaholics.”
Empowering Human Potential
From early on, Cameron has been a pristine example of resilience, and his efforts have not gone unnoticed.
In November 2005, he was honored with a Shining Star Award for his outstanding volunteerism, and in 2015 he received the Mohamed Amin Award for Humanitarian Service.
“Without Hanger Clinic, the quality of life I have would not be possible. I’m truly grateful.”