From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – to – Malaita, Solomon Islands – We have a story to share!

Nov 28, 2022

Written by: David and Carolyn Lawrence

You might ask, what does a woman from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and a man from the Solomon Islands (South Pacific) have to do with each other? Read on. It will soon be clear, and truly represents what the Mission Gait Foundation is all about.

We, as you might imagine, are asked all the time to explain what the Foundation is, who it serves, and what it “does.” Because Mission Gait has so many layers and facets, sometimes the answers can be confusing, and probably more complicated than they should be.

Recently, Heidi Starke, from Pennsylvania, found our education materials and training videos online. They helped her so much that she reached out to us to arrange physical therapy at The Gait Center. Subsequently, she spent a week in Richmond, and we were able to successfully treat her. The story of HOW she found us, and what transpired, encapsulates our domestic mission, goals, programs and outcomes better than we could have said it ourselves. Below is Heidi’s letter to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center network urging collaboration.

Hi Lisa and Claire,

Thanks for listening this week as I told you about the gait training that I did with David Lawrence at the Gait Center in Richmond. I know that you strive to create magnet sites with an expertise in helping people with limb loss, so I wanted to share an opportunity for the continued growth of your program.

I learned about the Gait Center after watching the short specific videos on the Mission Gait channel on YouTube. I contacted Mission Gait and learned that it is a foundation with a mission greater than helping one patient at a time. Instead, they have a “train the trainer” approach to empower the physical rehabilitation community to help patients with complex gait challenges. In September I spent a week at their location in Richmond for intensive therapy two hours each day and two additional hours of practice in their facility. We practiced many strategies that you taught me. Their training also included additional learning, such as stumble recovery and safe falling.

His foundation offers courses for professionals and I thought that this would be a great opportunity for UPMC! They offer both virtual and in-person courses. Their philosophy is to share knowledge and skills with other professionals. They have a great resource library on their website as well.

I hope that you take a few minutes to check out their site and consider this opportunity. Carolyn Lawrence can be reached at 804-918-5792. I copied her on this email as well. They didn’t ask me to act as their ambassador, but I was so impressed that I wanted to connect you to them!

Thanks for all that you do. I’ll see you next week!

Heidi Stark

Heidi Stark and her family zip lining in Colorado Springs just 2 weeks before she lost her left leg.
So what about this guy in the Solomon Islands?

Hudson Sade, back home in the Solomon Islands; Read Hudson’s Full Story

Back in 2019 a Richmonder, Jeff Allen, reached out to us to see if we could help his father-in-law who had lost his leg in the Solomon Islands. (Jeff had been a missionary there for a number of years, and it is where he met his wife.) Arrangements were made for Hudson Sade to be brought to The Gait Center, where he received a prosthetic and specialized training gratis. Once this was done successfully Hudson returned home to the Solomon Islands. There he was like a Rock Star, as he was the only person in the Solomon Islands to have a modern prosthetic and walk freely after amputation.

Like Heidi in Pittsburgh, Hudson urged the powers that be (Ministry of Health) to collaborate with Mission Gait Foundation. The Ministry reached out to us, and in November of this year we completed a Prosthetic and Orthotic Lab inside of a 40’ shipping container. It will be sent to the Solomon Islands by the end of 2022. Providing the country with its only access to prosthetic and orthotic rehabilitation!

Wow!! In each of these cases…One patient helped, creating a collaboration that could help hundreds or even thousands more in the future. This is how we dreamed Mission Gait would work, and as you can see, this is how it is working today.

We gratefully thank Heidi and Hudson for each taking the time to share our mission with their local healthcare providers, half way around the world from one another. They have never met, but they have more in common than they could have ever known.

We thank YOU for being a part of the Mission Gait family and supporting our education and training materials that kick-started these very “stories” and more! We also thank the donors to Mission Gait’s international program, Walking Free – which has made our first portable Prosthetic/Orthotic fabrication Lab for the Solomon Islands become a reality.

With your continued support and encouragement, we will reach more and more “Heidis” and “Hudsons” and transform gait therapy for patients wherever they are. From Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Malaita, Solomon Islands – Mission Gait Foundation is empowering professionals and patients domestically and globally. How exciting!

We would be so appreciative if you would include Mission Gait in your charitable contributions on Giving Tuesday, and/or in support of our year-end efforts.