An amputee, originally from Cumming, will walk from Atlanta to Birmingham to raise funds to help others who are missing limbs.
Mark Sweatman, will lead the 120-mile walk from Nov. 7 through 17 to benefit Limbs for Life, a global nonprofit organization which provides prostheses for those who can not afford them. Mark is accepting donations in support of his walk on his website, AmputatedYetWhole.com.
Sweatman lost his left leg to Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy at age 38. While walking in Piedmont Park, Sweatman suffered a simple broken foot. That break led to RSD, a painful and debilitating neurological condition that could have spread to his whole leg. Amputation below the knee was the result.
Sweatman's ordeal was made even more painful because he said his parents had rejected him because he is gay.
"I didn't have my parents there to tell me everything was going to be okay," said Sweatman.
Sweatman said after the surgery, his life fell into a downward spiral. He said he lost his job, went through his savings and his partner left him.
"There aren't words that can describe how horrible that makes you feel. That you're not worthy. That nobody wants you," said Sweatman.
Sweatman said he tried to take his life and credits his rescue dog, Diamond, with helping him overcome future thoughts of suicide.
"She saved my life many times over," said Sweatman who said he couldn't abandon Diamond when he knew how painful abandonment can be.
Sweatman decided to change his life and he found inner strength and new purpose by focusing on what he does have instead of what he's missing. He now mentors other amputees and wrote a book, Amputated Yet Whole, to inspire others to embrace their challenges.
Sweatman welcomes all to donate and/or walk with him. He will walk 12 to 16 miles a day for 10 days. More information about Sweatman and the walk is available at www.amputatedyetwhole.com.
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