Thursday, May 24, 2007

Amputee teams make inspiring PPP runs

By Katie Brauns / The Bulletin
Published: May 20. 2007 5:00AM PST

Dennis Frazier, competing with a prosthetic leg, nearly dislocated his shoulder when he took a fall during the cross-country ski stage of Saturday's Pole Pedal Paddle race.

"He said his doctor is going to be (mad)," said Scott Peterson of Summit Prosthetics and Orthotics and Foot Fitness, which sponsored Frazier's team - Old Farts and Spare Parts - and the Incred ABLEs, two teams made up primarily of amputees competing in the PPP's Challenged division.

Frazier, 55, of Eugene, underwent surgery on his shoulder two months ago, but that didn't stop him from competing on the Old Farts and Spare Parts team. Frazier's teammates, mostly from Central Oregon, were Jeff Melville, 45, who competed in the alpine ski; Peter Loeffler, 55, who cycled down the mountain; Cameron Coker, 32, who paddled; and Mike Steele, originally from Bend but now of Crane, who sprinted to the finish.

All of the team's amputees are leg amputees.

Peterson explained that Frazier wiggled his shoulder back into place after it popped out of joint, hanging loosely at his side.

Frazier wasn't the only one from the amputee teams who was coming off a recent hospital visit. Steele, 57, and Shane Christensen, 17, of Redmond, both spent time in the hospital recently, Christensen just getting back on his feet in November after a year of cancer treatment and surgeries.

The 17-year-old high school senior had cancer in the tibia (shin bone), which is currently in remission. Last year, according to his mother, Ranea Christensen, Shane underwent an amazing and rare surgery, involving the placement of "the heal of his foot into his knee." Though this was his first PPP, he said he is inspired to compete in many more.

"Whatever I can do, there is no limit," Christensen said Saturday coming off the sprint finish clutching his crutches. Teammates Rick Cavens, Jeff Hancock, Ann Williams and Ken Cook greeted Christensen at the finish.

The Incred ABLEs clocked in at 3 hours, 23 minutes and 19 seconds. The Old Farts with Spare Parts finished in 3:37.28.

Katie Brauns can be reached at 383-0393 or at

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