The Proof

Condition: Unilateral above-knee amputee

Experience:  In his junior year in high school, a freak accident during football practice injured Jacob’s left leg. Doctors were unsuccessful in repairing the damage to the artery and had to amputate above the knee. Jacob put his playing on pause, but not his plans. “Athletics. I was not going to let anything change regarding what I want to do with my life.” Ready to begin rehabilitation as soon as possible, he told his doctors, “Let’s get this going.” Keeping up with Jacob proved to be the hardest part the job. His initial therapists wanted to help Jacob learn to walk when Jacob wanted to run. One doctor told him there was no way—it simply wasn’t possible.

Fortunately, Jacob had others on his side who believed in him, like Jack Ackerly. Jack, a former rector of UVA and big high school football fan, was receiving physical therapy from David Lawrence at The Gait Center after experiencing a stroke. Upon hearing Jacob’s story, he reached out through the high school rector, encouraging Jacob to meet with David for rehabilitation.

Jacob shared his goals with David, who was immediately on board. “David is awesome on two levels. First, he’s a friend who believes in you and gives you the confidence to go for it. And second, he’s a professional who has the expertise to make you capable of doing what you want to do.” Jacob didn’t “just” want to run. He wanted to run, stop quickly, and turn and throw the football. David worked with Joe Sullivan, Jacob’s prosthetist, to find the right type of prosthetic leg. Then David, Joe, and Jacob worked to tweak it to handle that kind of maneuver. They figured it out, and Jacob hasn’t stopped since. In 2017, Jacob graduated from the University of Virginia, where he was a student football coach. After graduation, he accepted a position as Offensive Quality Control Assistant with UCLA’s football program.

Personal interests: Athletics, football

“David was all on board for fighting to get me to wherever I wanted to be... If I said wanted to do something, David would say, OK, we’ve got to figure out how to help you do that to the best of your ability. ”