Welcome to Chris Provenzano's Fundraising Page
In December 2010, I came home for winter break in between what I expected to be my last semesters of college with what I thought was a typical flu virus. As my fevers reached extremely high levels of 104°, it became apparent my body was battling something far more serious than a normal virus. After spending a week at my local hospital, doctors had yet to determine a cause for the extreme symptoms I was displaying or reach a diagnosis when I crashed: I began to have difficulty breathing and was suffering organ failure. I was immediately rushed to the ICU and spent seven days intubated on a ventilator. During this week long period, doctors made the decision to give me pressers to ensure my vital organs remained functioning properly; as a result, I lost circulation to each of my four extremities and sustained extensive damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in my left foot. Since April 2011, I have been a left below knee amputee.
When doctors initially informed me that they recommended amputation, I experienced the full myriad of emotions I imagine most people experience when he or she is told you will lose your limb. I was shocked, angry, confused, and cried hysterically. My whole life I have played sports. I grew up playing baseball, soccer, and basketball then played football and baseball in high school. I even had the skill and good fortune to walk on the baseball team while at Villanova excelling academically and athletically as a D-1 Big East student-athlete. Instantly, I knew my life would be entering unchartered territory. How difficult would the transition to my new life with an amputation be? How would others look and perceive me now that I had a noticeable physical disability? Perhaps most importantly, though, would I be able to enjoy the same active life I’ve enjoyed and thrived on up to this point in my life?
As a former baseball player, one of the most revered men in the game’s great history is legendary Yankee first baseman, #4 Lou Gehrig. Gehrig is also famed for being forced into an early retirement due to the onset of ALS, commonly referred to today as Lou Gehrig’s disease. As Gehrig formally retired on July 4, 1939, he made a brief speech in front of fans and former teammates gathered at Yankee Stadium. Paraphrasing his now immortalized words, Gehrig said,“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth…I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.” In the six years since my amputation, I have found “The Iron Horse” was right; I do have an awful lot to live for. Doctors were able to diagnose my symptoms as a rare autoimmune disorder known as Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). After completing a 40 week chemo and steroid treatment protocol, I was healthy and able to return to school for my final semester and graduate. I resumed a physically active lifestyle I initially wondered might be permanently lost including weight lifting, swimming, yoga, and running.
One of the most positive influences in my new life as an amputee has been the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). CAF's mission is clear: give those with the desire to live active, competitive lifestyles every opportunity to compete in the sports they love. I was a beneficiary of CAF's 2012 grantee class when I received my running prosthetic blade to use for competitive distance running. On Sunday November 5th, I'll be running the 2017 NYC Marathon using my running blade.Please join me in my efforts to support challenged athletes like myself as I run representing Team CAF. By making a donation towards my fundraising goal, you will provide individuals with physical challenges the resources necessary to find success in sports and in life!
Thank you for your support!