|When I was a child, my parents always left one special
present alongside or under the tree that wasn't wrapped; this gift was the star
of the show, the best of the best!
There has been a special Christmas gift this year that was
also unwrapped…the star of the show, the best of the best! And it couldn't have
happened without the help of others, countless friends and strangers.
I became friends with Captain Jesus Araiza in the late ’70s
fishing with him many times over the years. Filled with vitality, he often
stopped by my home, Rancho Deluxe,
in the evenings to discuss the day's events as we shared a drink. A lifetime
resident of Los Barriles, Jesus began fishing in 1953 at the age of 14, and was
part of the birth of sportfishing at East Cape. Shortly after his retirement at
Hotel Buena Vista Beach Resort in 2008, he was featured in one of my
Roadtrekker columns. http://roadtrekker.blogspot.com/2008/08/jesus-araiza-captain-with-class.html
He battled diabetes, which became progressively worse and
resulted in the loss of his right foot below the knee earlier this year. Needless
to say, my friend was devastated as a prosthesis was well out of his reach
financially. Last summer, I stopped by to visit Jesus and found him to be quiet
and discouraged. His fishing days seemed to have passed him by.
In early 2009, when I was in Mulege, I ran into Paul Boe.
Paul, a 15-year member of Vagabundos del Mar Boat and Travel Club (http://www.vagabundos.com) recognized me and
introduced himself and a couple of his buddies, Brad Farrow, CPO and
Frank Rodriguez. They were returning from La Paz where they had been
volunteering for two weeks at a clinic organized by a local Rotary Club to fabricate
prostheses and orthopedic braces for locals. http://roadtrekker.blogspot.com/2009/03/unexpected-encounters.html
Since that meeting, he would send me periodic updates of his
trips and semi-annual Orthotic and Prosthetic clinics held twice a year in La
Paz with the assistance of Dr.
Alejandro Aguirre Chavez, a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Doctor and the
La Balandra Rotary Club, also in La Paz. The 2011 fall clinic would mark the beginning
of the eighth year the clinics had been conducted in both fall and spring, fitting
approximately 250 prostheses, mostly lower limb, along with an equal amount of
bracing systems of various designs.
The undertaking required many volunteers, a partial list
includes: Dr. Alejandro Aguirre,
Dr. Robert Haining, Brad Farrow CPO(e) and Louise Farrow, Jim Thompson (lab
technician), Francisco Rodriguez CPO(e), Kathy Jones (Special Education
Administrator - Retired), Richard Sire CPO, Kirk Douglass CPO, Garth Knapp CPO,
Marvin Gramajo (Guatemalan Prosthetist-Orthotist), Charles Landis (helper),
Skip Hart (helper), Jesus (Physical Therapist), Oscar and Imelda Hernandez
(Special Education Professors), Greg and Gayle Edwards, Paul Boe CPO(e), and
Shelley Boe. They all offered their services for free; La Balandra Rotary
provided room and board for all the visitors.
After visiting Jesus last July, I decided to seek Paul's
help. Without hesitation, he set up an appointment for Jesus at the fall
clinic. After many telephone conversations, Paul decided that a
"Renegade" foot was needed for a below-knee prosthesis for Jesus.
A friend of Paul's, Greg Birkholz (also a below-knee
amputee), wears a "Renegade" foot on his prosthesis and coincidently
is an avid fisherman. Greg volunteered to contact Freedom Innovations, (http://www.freedom-innovations.com/) who agreed to donate not one but
two of these feet for a prosthesis for Jesus.
In early November at the La Balandra Rotary Club in La Paz,
Jesus was fitted and given the prosthesis along with a "Renegade"
foot and a backup spare to be used after the first one wears out. According to
Boe, "I conducted a follow up visit with Jesus several days after we
delivered the prosthesis, and he was doing very well. We plan on seeing him
again for another follow up visit at our spring clinic this coming March 2012."
Later in the Spring, Jesus' former employer offered to host
Greg Birkholz allowing the two men to fish together on one of the hotel
cruisers. Greg stated, "As a fellow fisherman and amputee, I wanted Jesus
to have the best prosthetic foot I have found for deep sea fishing."
La Paz La Balandra Rotary Club is to be applauded for all of
their humanitarian services to their community and outlying areas. They sponsor
these clinics twice a year in La Paz and recently purchased a mobile lab trailer
to service more remote areas in Baja Sur offering different types of health
screenings for the rural communities as well.
They hold a variety of fund raising activities throughout
the year including two fishing tournaments. During the past few years, the
fund-raising revenues have diminished. If you would like to hear more about
their activities and a way to contribute please contact Dr. Alejandro Aguirre, firstname.lastname@example.org
What began as an impossible dream for Jesus became a reality
through the efforts of friends and strangers alike. A discouraged Captain Jesus
Araiza, fisherman extraordinaire, was back in business. He had received a special
present that wasn't wrapped; this gift was the star of the show, the best of
PAUL BOE CPO WITH CAPTAIN JESUS ARAIZA test driving his new prosthesis and
LEFT TO RIGHT, JODIE PATE, Captain Jesus Araiza,
Yvonne Graham during International Women Fly Fishers Baja conference.