When it comes to the field of Prosthetics & Orthotics, it seems that many of us have a unique story as to how we came to work in the field. And I would like to share mine with you:
While I was a junior in college, trying to figure out a career path, I was leaning towards applying to physical therapy school, with the ultimate goal of working with the military. I was lucky enough to attend school near Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), and my roommate’s mother, Melanie Strudler, happened to volunteer in the physical therapy gym; at the time, she had been volunteering there for the past two years. I was able to shadow her at WRAMC for a few days, and it was while I was there that I stumbled upon the world of prosthetics and orthotics. I was lucky enough to volunteer in the prosthetics lab at Walter Reed, where my passion for the field grew, before ultimately going to prosthetics & orthotics school for my master’s degree.
Throughout our lives and our professions, we come across individuals who we can learn from, as much as they learn from us. Melanie Strudler was one of those people. I have her to thank for helping me find a career that I love. However, Melanie was unable to see me get to where I am today. Nine months into my residency at Dankmeyer, Melanie passed away from pancreatic cancer. She was a fighter to the end, and despite her treatments and struggles, her priority was still focused on giving back to the service members who had given up and done so much for our country. Melanie’s daughter, and my good friend, Erica, decided that the best way to continue her mother’s legacy was through the foundation of a non-profit in her honor—and thus, Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc. was born.
I have been involved with this non-profit organization since its foundation. In continuing her legacy, Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc. raises funds to honor and support wounded service members and their families. Our largest fundraiser is our Golf Outing, held in May; this upcoming May will be our 6th golfing fundraiser. The main beneficiary of the funds we raise is a program open to service members and their families located just outside of the Atlanta, Georgia area. While in graduate school at Georgia Tech, I was part of a group volunteering with Camp Twin Lakes, which helped develop the Family Warrior Weekends. These weekends are free to the service-members and their families, and Miracle 4 Melanie helps sponsor four weekends each year.
I am thankful to be able to give back to such a worthy cause, while honoring an amazing woman to whom I owe helping me find this amazing field. For more information on Miracle 4 Melanie, Inc., please visit their website by clicking here. For more information on the Family Warrior Weekends, please visit their website by clicking here. I wish to thank Matt Ryb Pictures for most of the photos in my story. I took the Camp Twin Lakes one myself!