Interview with Amputee Walking School founder Todd Schaffhauser

Todd (L) and Dennis (R).

Registration is now open for the June 19 session of 2019 Amputee Walking School! Check out the links below. In the meantime, we had a chance to catch up with one of the founders of Amputee Walking School (AWS), Todd Schaffhauser, and ask him a few questions about how it all got started!

What inspired you to start the Amputee Walking School?

"The AWS program really happened by chance. We were asked to go to Austin, Texas to teach four amputees to learn to run in the fall of 1988. So we decided to host a running clinic. We [had] just got back from winning our gold medals in the Paralympics in Seoul, Korea. I was going to physical therapy school at the time and Dennis was actually working in real estate. After teaching our first students we realized that this was something we needed to do more of. More amputees who were diabetic and vascular started coming to the running clinics. We decided to change the program to include everyone who has an amputation. And the AWS program was born."

How did you and Dennis meet?

"We actually met in Nashville, Tennessee at our first competition and realized we both lived on Long Island. Then we started training together soon after. We have been working together for the last 31 years!!"

What advice would you want to give to new amputees?

"First is to be patient and take things one day at a time. I would [recommend they] meet other amputees that could become their mentor. [I] very much believe in mentoring. Amputees need to see what life will be like [in] three months, or six months down the road. Once they see that things are going to be okay if they work hard at it (and you [need to] work hard at it) the light at the end of the tunnel starts to shine brighter. You gotta keep moving forward!!"

What are ways to help even if you do not know someone with limb loss?

"Volunteering is a great way to help. We can always use spotters to help our amputees in learning the new training techniques. Anyone in the healthcare industry can be a great volunteer for the AWS program. Whether you are looking for support or training the Amputee Walking School is always in session."


Also, while you are waiting for June 19 to get here, have some fun watching Todd and Dennis in a Facebook Live video where they explain the program and demonstrate some exercises. They discuss the importance of physical therapy for amputees, and encourage amputees to track their steps, setting daily goals for themselves.

If you would like to watch this great, really informative video, click here. Todd and Dennis know how to engage and encourage amputees to get moving!

Professionals will attend the afternoon session from 1:30 pm - 4:45 pm. Click here for registration for the professionals session.

The evening session is 5 pm - 7 pm. Click here for registration for the free evening session for those with limb loss.

Pencil these dates in for the rest of the year so you don't miss the fun:

  • September 18, 2019

  • November 20, 2019

You can read all about prior sessions and see a LOT of pictures by scrolling through our AWS news below. We look forward to seeing you at this first 2019 session!