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Cancer survivor plays wheelchair tennis against able-bodied competitors

by Kate Snider Jess Sporte, 23, lost her leg to cancer when she was just 4 months old. Jess uses crutches for short distances and a wheelchair for longer distances. She received outpatient care from the Center for Limb Differences at Mary Free Bed until she was 21 years old. Growing up, Jess watched from the sidelines as…
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Patient helps other amputees by starting support group

by Kate Snider In July 2002, Dennis Vandereist’s car was struck by another vehicle, hit a fire hydrant and rolled. Dennis, who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle, his left leg was pinned between the driver’s door and the ground. Dennis was taken to Holland Hospital, then flown to Spectrum Health where doctors tried…
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Teen recovers at Mary Free Bed after brain tumor

by Kate Snider Fifteen-year-old Brenden Haas had been vomiting regularly for 7 months when he collapsed at his home. At the beginning of his illness, Brenden’s stomach didn’t feel right and he began vomiting in the morning. When it became apparent that his vomiting wasn’t because of the flu, his parents took him to a…
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Struck by drunk driver, amputee prepares for Paralympics

by Kate Snider Melanie Johnson was riding her motorcycle to her nephew’s football game in September 2004 when she was struck by a drunk driver. The life-changing accident happened just 5 miles from home. “I knew it was really bad when I heard the helicopter,” Melanie said. “I remember thinking, if they had to call…
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Teen embraces the hard work of physical therapy

Vinnie Baker, 15, has cerebral palsy, which affected the way walked. After a complex sugery to help him walk more upright, Vinnie comes to Mary Free Bed for intense physical therapy (and has some fun, too!).

The Right Motivation

by Amanda Larsen Even a motivational speaker can get discouraged. Julie Scheving was very discouraged after a massive stroke that caused her to lose half of her speaking ability and the use of the right side of her body. After her initial recovery, Julie quickly found herself as an inpatient at Mary Free Bed’s Stroke…
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