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Sprague unfazed by amputated leg PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kyle Arnoldy   

Life hasn’t slowed down much for 9-year-old Luke Sprague in the 12 months following the July 17, 2013, farm accident that resulted in the amputation of the lower portion of his left leg. He has been pushing his own limits, never once backing down from the new challenges life has thrown his way.

His humor-filled approach to life has never yielded in the past year as he occasionally finds joy in joking with people about how he lost part of his leg. When questioned about the accident, his story ranges from a bear to a shark attack. His mom, Emma Sprague, laughs as she recalls his response to those who stare by referring to them as two-legged freaks.

With a recovery much quicker than anyone expected—doctors included—Luke was back to his old rambunctious ways just weeks after the accident.

“He hasn’t really changed that much,” Emma said. “I actually think he is more happy now. He’s just got a really good attitude toward everything.”

Luke Sprague puts his trampoline skills on display with a one-legged front flip.­  —Enterprise photo

When asked what he can’t do, he shows no hesitation before blurting out, “nothing.” The last year is proof of that. Less than two months after the accident, he was riding sheep in a mutton bustin’ event at Phillips County Raceway.

“It just doesn’t seem to bother him,” Luke’s dad Alan said of the hardships associated with using a prosthetic leg. “It’s just another thing he has to do every day.”

By November, he was looking for a foot that could keep up with his active lifestyle. After getting the athletic foot attachment for his prosthetic leg, he was back on the basketball court relearning how to run.

“Aaron Sprague taught him how to run with the new sports leg,” Emma explained. “He worked with him a lot during basketball. Luke did really awesome. The first basket he ever made, I swear the stands went nuts. Everybody stood up, his teammates jumped on him and everyone was pretty excited.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” Alan said about watching his son. “It is amazing all of the support he gets. Everyone else seems to be rooting for him, too.”

Luke stated that he has to keep reminding himself to step with his heel first as opposed to stepping flat-footed. With the help of those around him, Emma said his limp isn’t as noticeable, and when he is walking in a group it’s hard to point him out as he doesn’t stick out as being any different.

Luke says he has enjoyed all the attention that has come with the injury, relishing the moments when people say they are proud of him and when they cheer him on. Those who pass by while he is jumping on the tramp often honk for him, and the fire department even stopped once to cheer him on, according to his mom.

“They’re so much of the reason why he is how he is,” Emma said. “He has encouragement left and right, especially Sharon Jones. Mrs. Jones is like his mama bear at the school. She is very protective of him.”

With the help of a new athletic foot, Luke was able to compete in basketball, wrestling, soccer, baseball and the 50-yard dash during the school field day. He even managed to score a goal in soccer and bring home some hardware during the wrestling season, including a first-place medal from a tournament in Imperial, Neb.

Nearly a year after having the lower portion of his left leg amputated,
Luke Sprague is still as active as ever as he waits for a ball to be hit
his way during a PeeWee game in June.­  —Enterprise photo

While the tournament didn’t have the most pleasing start—his first opponent forfeited because he didn’t want to wrestle him—Luke’s positive attitude never waned. Luke won his next match by points, giving him the first-place finish. The boy who initially didn’t want to wrestle Luke eventually did, however, with Luke winning by pinning him.

At the season’s end, he was awarded the “biggest heart” award. He may not have always won, but he never gave up.

“No matter what, I kept trying and trying, even if I didn’t win,” Luke said proudly.

Nothing seems to bother the ornery youngster, who says he is just happy to be able to play. He doesn’t have much pain anymore, but is often still worried about his leg. In soccer, his leg flying off and hitting someone is one of his fears, which causes him to be extra cautious, according to Emma.

He has also had to get used to seeing prosthetic feet lying around, noting that he was initially freaked out when he saw his sports foot in his mom’s car.

“Probably one of the biggest changes for our family since that day has been that Alan has never taken the kids back out to the farm,” Emma explained. “Daddy still hasn’t gotten over it. He’s scared to let them near anything.”

The work continues for Luke. One of his goals is to be able to balance with all of his weight on his prosthetic. Through an exercise where he balances on a scale, he has been able to sustain about 35 pounds of pressure.

Now on the horizon for Luke is the possibility of a blade prosthetic. The blade is more geared toward those who participate in fast-action sports. He will have to wait for a while though as he weighs 45 pounds and he’ll have to reach 80 pounds to qualify for one.

Holyoke Enterprise July 17. 2014