Our inspirational person of the month is Hawaiian amputee surfer, Mike Coots. When Mike was 17, he lost his leg to shark attack while body boarding. While paddling about 100 meters off the coast of Kaui, Mike suddenly felt searing pain in his leg. To his dismay a large tiger shark had latched onto his leg. Mike was able to get away by punching the shark and immediately paddled to shore. He had no idea his leg was missing when he went to shore due to shock. Until reality set in and he realized what was happening, he thought his only injury was  small cut on his hand. Mike lost a lot of blood in the shark attack, and doctors say he was lucky to survive the incident. However, that did not stop him. Little did he know it was a means to a new beginning.

When this event occurred, 17 years ago, the prosthetics industry was less advanced and there were almost no options available for different sports such as swimming or running like there is today.  Mike was able found ways around the crude prosthetics back then so we could still enjoy his favorite water activities. Since then, a lot has changed in the industry. Today Mike has a new prosthetic made specifically for surfing. He is also taking a stand for the environment and is committed to helping sharks and removing the bad stigma. Despite his injuries, he insists he was simply at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The benefits of surfing for an amputee are many. According to Mike, he has had no back pain or issues due to surfing. He is  living testament to surfers and amputees alike and wants to share his knowledge of the sport with other amputees. He considers his prosthetic to be a lifeline and recently hosted an “Amputee Surf Day” in Australia. The benefits of surfing are not just for amputees, people with cystic fibrosis have found relief with this sport as well, researchers in Australia discovered that the saltwater mist of the ocean helps rehydrate airway surfaces which helps the lungs.

Check out this video of Mike surfing here:

For more information on the benefits of Surfing and to read more about Mike Coots check out these links: