Meet Our New Grant Recipient, Kyle Stepp!
We are kicking off 2023 with a bang - and new prosthetics! Please help us welcome our newest grant recipient to the Move For Jenn family.
Growing up in a broken home and moving in and out of foster care, Kyle's "only outlet to navigate the pain and loss were getting outside or participating in community sports." Kyle was diagnosed with stage four osteosarcoma in 2008 when he was just a freshman in high school. After experiencing excruciating pain in his knee while playing sports, Kyle knew something was wrong.
On October 14, 2008, Kyle began a three and a half year battle "filled with countless rounds of chemotherapy, surgeries, overnight stays at the hospital for months, and specialist visits."
Kyle endured a limb salvage surgery where his tumor was removed and a stainless steel implant was placed into his leg to act as a femur, knee, and tibia. Unfortunately, Kyle continued to live with complications due to his diagnosis and surgery. "For years I contemplated having an amputation due to the pain but struggled with my identity, coming out as gay and the 'limitations' as an amputee."
Photo: Ian Beckley
Despite it all, Kyle was determined to get back to riding his bike, something he loved to do growing up. In October of 2020, Kyle was riding in New Mexico at the Angel Fire Mountain Bike Park. He lost control of his bike and his reconstructed leg hit a tree leaving his internal prosthetic shattered. Kyle knew he would lose his leg.
"After my accident, I was FaceTiming two of my friends who are also amputees (Brenna Huckaby and Noah Elliot), and they both shared with me how hard it was to take their life back after their surgery. However, both shared that the turning point for their confidence, strength, and self-love with being an amputee was when they started pursuing goals bigger than their pain.
Following that call and the day before my amputation, I wrote down five goals knowing they would be hard, but they would help me pursue my passions rather than get lost in pain:
Return to cycling immediately, no matter what it takes
Learn to run for the first time since I was 14
Return to skiing by the opening weekend (six weeks after my accident)
Discover a new passion I have never tried before
Celebrate my first post-amputation anniversary with a race or challenge to culminate and celebrate how far I have come
Those five goals set me on a path of turning my pain into a purpose. Not only did I accomplish those goals, but I also found healing, confidence, self-love, and pride in being an amputee."
Within two months of his amputation, Kyle returned to cycling and finished the Lobo Cancer Challenge 50 mile race - on one leg! Kyle has also:
Finished the one-mile open water swim and 44-mile bike race at the Challenged Athletes Foundation San Diego Triathlon.
Became the first para-athlete to race and finish the Iron Horse Classic (Durango to Silverton, Colorado) on one leg—that’s 50 miles, 5,700 feet of elevation gain over two 10,000-foot passes.
Qualified for the USA Paratriathlon National Championships at his first full triathlon after learning how to run on a running blade for the first time seven days before the USA Paratriathlon Development Series Race & Triathlon.
Won third place and a bronze medal in the PTS2 class at his first Paratriathlon National Championship on July 17, 2022.
Kyle says, "It wasn’t until my left leg was amputated above the knee that I started taking my passion and love movement to the next level. My journey with movement and sports changed after my surgery because I leaned into the adaptive sports community, which introduced me to the world of para sports competitions and elite paraclassifications. The past two years as an amputee have shown me that anything is possible when you have access."
We are thrilled to be able to give Kyle the gift of movement with an Obsidian Running Blade, which he plans to use as he represents the U.S. at a World Triathlon World Series Race! We are also thrilled to be able to give Kyle a leg "stump cup" for his bike that will allow him to equally balance his hips and bodyweight, all while cycling one sided.
"Movement has been my vehicle to experience freedom and discover how beautiful life can be, no matter the challenges life throws me. Through every stage in life, movement has been my outlet to navigate and survive adversity, hardship, and pain. When I am out riding at sunrise, crushing mountain passes, or competing in the Paratriathlon National Championships, I am not disabled. I am an athlete and a human living to experience freedom."
Thank you to our friends at Orangetheory Pine Bluffs and Orangetheory Parker in Colorado for assisting with these grants for Kyle. You may remember that these two incredible studios helped to fundraise for fellow OTF member, Andre, who was one of our grant recipients at the end of 2022. They ended up exceeding their fundraising goal for Andre and were thrilled to be able to help give the gift of movement to an additional MFJ grant recipient.