The kids are going to stare . . . might as well make them smile.

When Lamoni was fixin’ to get a new foot a few months ago, we started the usual “fabric search”. We were scanning the Internet for a small amount of cool, fun, amazing fabric that his prosthetic guy would use to cover the carbon fiber socket of his new leg. (Technology is so amazing!) Why search the Internet you may ask? Because we live in a small, middle-of-nowhere town, and Walmart’s fabric section can be somewhat lacking in “coolness”.

Lamoni narrowed his search down to two fabric patterns: sharks, with blood in their teeth, and a SpongeBob SquarePants pattern. We couldn’t choose, so we ordered both! When he returned from his prosthetic appointment in the city I asked him what fabric he chose to leave with them. He replied, “The SpongeBob one.”  I asked him why he chose that fabric and he answered, “For the kids.” Now, as much as I knew he meant it was for our kids, I also knew it was for ALL kids.

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Kids stare. Heck, even some adults stare. And that is totally normal. When they see someone, or something that is “different” than what they are accustomed to they will stare out of curiosity. That’s usually what it is – just plain curiosity. There is no harm in that.

When Lamoni and I were first married I noticed the stares a lot. When we would walk the mall, I would notice the extra attention he would bring. This never bothered me, but I did find it curious. It was something I never thought of before. I mentioned the “extra attention” to Lamoni and he just shrugged and almost laughed with a half-smile, “I don’t notice it anymore.” He had grown up being the “different” one and he was no stranger to stares. It doesn’t bother him, and after so many years it just slips through his filter and is a normal part of life.

I will tell you this: When a child stares or points with an exclamation of “Look Mommy!”, the situation only gets awkward when the adult tries their hardest to “shush” the child, tells them to not stare, or tries to ignore the whole “embarrassing” encounter. We have an idea . . .teach the children that it’s okay to be curious about something that seems different. It’s okay to ask questions.  Knowledge will eliminate any fear of the new and unknown to the child. Yes, I understand that most adults are worried about the child’s “manners” but shushing the child and telling them not to stare can plant a small seed of fear, fear of the different and unknown.  If they point and exclaim “Look Mommy!” gently acknowledge the new discovery and explain that people are all different and different is okay. It’s as simple as that! No need to go deep into a discussion on differences and shapes, sizes, yadda yadda. Simply have a small conversation with your child about the situation they are pointing to and move on. (Unless you are fortunate enough to stop and have a chat with the “different” person. What a great experience for your child!) Don’t try to hush your child and push away/ignore the whole encounter – this only teaches your child that “different” is bad and not to be talked about. It all comes down to being an example to the children.

Now I’m not saying that you should take your child and approach every amputee (or handicapped person) and ask them about their life and experiences. I cannot speak for every amputee and not all are ready to share their story. The best advice is to pay attention to their body language; you will be able to tell if they want to share their story and ease the child’s curiosity.

Lamoni loves to talk to kids. If we have time and he sees that the child is willing and interested, he will answer any questions that are asked and he might even take his foot off and let the child touch the prosthetic foot. Now reading body language goes both ways because Lamoni will only go as far as he senses the child is comfortable with.

The child’s smile and amazement that this “man with a SpongeBob foot” is normal, not scary, and can do everything they can do is a great reward to witness. Just for fun, Lamoni will sometimes tell the child that a shark bit off his foot while he was surfing. A quick back-story: when I met Lamoni, he was a bushy-blond Southern Oregonian who surfed the California/Oregon coast, so this story is very believable. (But not true of course!) When he laughs and tells them that the real story of how he lost his foot was because of a faulty lawnmower, I tell you almost every time­ the mother (Yes, it’s always the mother) gets huge eyes and enthusiastically points to Lamoni’s leg and says, “See! See! I told you kids, this is why you should never play outside when so-and-so is mowing the lawn!” *Sigh* If only we had a dollar every time this was said.  The mother’s rant quickly turns Lamoni into the poster boy of why the kids should not play around lawnmowers. But again, he is used to this. Then the mother will usually ask if he uses riding lawnmowers himself. Almost expecting him to say “No I don’t use them, didn’t you just see how dangerous they can be?”. Instead he surprises them with this comment, “Yep I sure do! I even started a lawn care business once. It was great!”

Why not work on the cycle of “good manners” and of hushing the curious child. Lamoni hopes to “break the ice” with children and help them not to be afraid of something, or someone, different.  So, with his SpongeBob foot on Lamoni knows that the kids are going to stare . . .  might as well make them smile.

First Race. . . Ever

Did you hear about the guy who tried a Spartan Race for the first time?

In March 2013, Lamoni mentioned to me that he was going to do a Spartan Race in May of that year. “A what?” I asked.  I had never heard of the Spartan Race. “Yea, a guy at work was telling me about them and I want to do it.”

Well… Okay.  In my mind I’m thinking that this is great, whatever it is, because he’s actually “doing something.” For years he had been a hermit in our home and I yearned for him to get out and do something, anything! Find a hobby, find friends to hang out with. . . get that “spark” back in his eyes and his spirit.  Whatever this Spartan thingy was, I was grateful.

At the time, I wasn’t familiar with the Spartan Races at all. So, let me give you a small crash-course:

Definition of SPARTAN. 1: a native or inhabitant of ancient Sparta. 2: a person of great courage and self-discipline — Spar·tan·ism \-ˌ i-zəm\ noun

Wikipedia states that “Spartan Race is a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from 1 mile to marathon distances. In 2012, they were voted Outside Magazine’s “BEST OBSTACLE RACE”. They are held in North America, Canada, Europe, South Korea, and Australia. The series include the Spartan Sprint (3+ miles of obstacle racing), the Super Spartan (8+ miles), the Spartan Beast (12+ miles), and the Ultra Beast (26+ miles – one of two marathon obstacle courses along with Mudderthon). Spartan Race also has a time-trial obstacle course race that is one mile in length, and has a military series in which obstacles are designed by the United States military. Spartan Race’s parent company, Peak Races, hosts the Spartan Death Race, a 48+ hour extreme test of endurance and resilience. ESPN describes the Spartan Race as “a true test of will.”” Click here for the Wikipedia page.

So, as the weeks went on Lamoni began training for the race. I didn’t do much research into what a Spartan Race was, just whatever Lamoni and I would look up on the Internet. We looked at their awesome homepage, Go check it out! (By the way, the video that plays when you are on the homepage has a small clip of Lamoni’s broken foot. The footage was at the Spartan Beast in Midway, Utah in June 2013 – pause the video at 26 seconds and you’ll get a glimpse of Lamoni’s broken running foot.{Story about the broken running foot will come in a later post} Cool!) Lamoni’s training basically consisted of doing 6 weeks of the P90x program and some running. He was pretty dedicated to this workout and the results were pretty impressive.

Before: Pictures taken March 28, 2013

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After: Pictures taken May 6, 2013

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Race day!! The race was on a Saturday so we left on Friday to head to Colorado. We dropped the kids off with Lamoni’s brother and sister-in-law for them to watch overnight. They were a big help! (Thank you guys!) The race was a Spartan Sprint in Colorado. It was held on a military base (very cool!) at Ft. Carson near the Air Force Academy / Colorado Springs area. This was about a 6-7 hour drive from our home. I say 6-7 hours because it depended on how many times I had to stop and walk around. You see, at the time of the race I was 4 months pregnant with our 5th child (an adventure of my own!). This was a fun quick get-away for the two of us. So, Saturday morning came and we got ready for the race. I went down early for the hotel’s breakfast and I brought back a yogurt for Lamoni to eat – that’s all he wanted. He was doing a quick version of the P90x Yoga workout to get ready for the race.


The location of the race was about a 20-minute drive from our hotel and I was getting really nervous for Lamoni during the drive. I’m a nervous person anyway (and pregnancy always heightens this terrible trait in me) and I had to work really hard to not “freak out” and get sick with my nerves. I was so worried about Lamoni doing this race for the first time and not knowing anybody or what to expect throughout the race. When we parked we were very lucky to find near us Lamoni’s buddy at work who was running the race too. His buddy, “C”, had his two daughters with him too -“M” and “K”.  While talking to them I was coming to realize that the four of them (Lamoni, C, M, and K) were all on a team to race. They would all be racing together! And I was just finding this out an hour before their start time! This information could have saved me much grief. (Remember why I was a nervous wreck earlier?? I thought that my husband would be running the race alone??) I was very relieved that he wasn’t running alone anymore. (Now couples, this is a quick lesson on communication right? Eh?)

So we head off to registration to get their bib numbers and such. Now it’s just time to wait until their race time. In this race, they were letting 200 racers start every 15 minutes. (We learned later that it was close to 9,000 racers between the Saturday and Sunday races! Wow!)

Waiting for their time to start. . .

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When they were lining up to start, I had made my way down the spectator path to try and get a good video of them starting the race. The video is awesome, showing the first obstacle. . . the moats. The sad thing is that I lost sight of the team and just kept videoing the same spot. But it’s still very entertaining to watch. I heard the announcer say later that day that there had been 18 injuries in the moat obstacle that day, so to please be careful when jumping in/over the moats. Mercy!

And then they were gone! The spectator path only went so far, then you had to wait for them to loop around the course and you could see them come around again for a few more obstacles.

Let me talk a little bit about Lamoni’s running foot. This was his first EVER running foot. As I said in the first post he had his leg amputated higher in 2006 for better prosthetics. Since that surgery was ka-ka to his life, he wasn’t very active until last year (2013). When he finally started seeing a prosthetic guy and we finally got insurance, he asked about a running foot.  This race was the “maiden voyage” for his running foot.  I was glad he was using his running foot for an extra reason – it made him easier to spot in the crowds of racers. I had to scan the feet of the racers to notice Lamoni. I learned pretty quickly that I had to look at the “feet” of the racers. I was used to looking at the shin/calf part of the leg to locate Lamoni because that’s what usually stood out. Not too many people have a pirate map on their shin/calf. But when I was trying to find him in the midst of many racers I came to the knowledge of a thing called “compression socks”. I had never heard of them. . . There were TONS of them! And they come in patterns! Patterns that make your feet look like prosthetics! (In MY eyes. . .) I had to learn to look to the actual feet of the runners to find Lamoni quickly. And by the time he came around the course again every racer had been through mud and it was hard to tell people apart from clothing color/pattern. But feet… feet will help me find my husband in a sea of muddy racers!

Here are a few videos of some obstacles they did when they showed up along the spectator course again. Spirits were still high! Woo!

When I first caught sight of Lamoni and his team it was at the log walk. I’m not sure the exact name of the obstacle, but that’s what I call it.

Next was the super long muddy barbed wire crawl. The video is a bit long, I don’t blame you if you want to skip the middle (when he got stuck behind a slow person, but once he passes her he’s a-bookin’ it!) and watch the end.

The team took time to strike a pose!


Then it was onto the spear throw. Lamoni nails it!

I then took a random video of my husband just walking around on his foot. You see, this was the first time I had ever seen him on an actual “running foot” and it was fascinating to me. So, this video is just of him walking around at a dead spot in the race.

I now had to run around to the other side of the spectator course to catch the last of the obstacles I could view.
This is a trench they had to climb through. (What I love about this video is how Lamoni runs to help his teammate out of the trench once he spots her. He can be such a helpful guy.)

This video of the rope/wall climb is one of my favorites. He shows his determination and strength here. He also shows his willingness to help others. After he makes it over the wall he stays there for quite a while to help others up the wall. I remember seeing his team waiting for him a while as he stayed and helped many people up and over that muddy, slippery wall. Love him!

The next two videos are of the weight pull, and the tire pull.

Seeing Lamoni and the team come through and do a few obstacles was refreshing. I think it helped us both. It eased my nerves a bit seeing how well he was doing and I think it gave him a boost of confidence as well.

After the team headed on with the race it was now a guessing game to see when the team would cross the finish line. I found a seat on a picnic table and tried to relax a bit. It seemed a bit cold being 55 degrees, but the sun was shining and it felt wonderful. I sat there for about 45 minutes enjoying watching people / racers. It was such a fun environment – such great energy and a feeling of accomplishment and goal reaching was bursting from the racers who had finished the race. It was easy to spot the finishers – they were covered in mud and sometimes even blood. Some of the teams even dressed up! I saw a team of 5 guys dressed as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and a group of girls dressed as zombie princesses complete with tutus. It was awesome!

I wanted to get a good “seat” at the finish line to see Lamoni finish the race. I saw a space open at a great spot, so I took it! I got to stand at the finish line for a while waiting for Lamoni and his team. It was fun cheering on the racers as they finished the race. To see kids and spouses cheering on their Dad’s/Mom’s as they jumped over the fire and raced to the end. I stood there for a little over an hour before I recognized Lamoni and his team up on the last obstacle. I got so excited when I saw them! They made it!

I only wish my phone had a zoom on the video setting.

I was (am) so proud of him! What a great accomplishment for his first Spartan Race. I could tell from the moment he crossed the finish line that he LOVED it! I kinda knew right then that we would be attending many Spartan Races in the future – and I was excited!

After he finished we celebrated for a minute or two, then he headed to the showers. The showers at a Spartan Race consist of garden hoses with sprayers attached. You basically wait your turn until a hose is unoccupied, then you spray yourself off – with COLD water! This wouldn’t be a problem in the summer, but in early May, in the Colorado mountains. . . the poor racers were all FREEZING! I felt so bad; they were all shaking and waiting to dry off. There were a few smart ones who knew to bring a change of clothes. (Luckily “C” told us to – he is a smart one!)

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Before we left Lamoni signed the Wall of Valor. (and we did a little shopping at the gift-shop tent)

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We left Colorado around 4pm that day (I’ll admit – I was worried about my kids). I got to drive the beautiful Colorado interstate the whole way home; Lamoni was just a wee bit tired. This put us home around 11pm to retrieve our kids. It was such a great experience – Lamoni had caught the Spartan bug.

What did I learn from this first Spartan Race? I learned that Lamoni wasn’t in the race to get a good “race time”. He just wanted to finish. Period. He would stop and help anybody that needed help along the way. That is who he is – and it was joyous to see that. I knew that man – that’s who I married, and that part of him was lost for so many years. For so many years I wondered if I would ever see that side of him again: the compassionate side, the concerned side, the strive-for-something side, and honestly, the happiness side of him. This race was a glimpse of hope that I had been yearning to feel for many years. I also knew it was going to be a slow climb back to a happier place for us both. But isn’t that better? A slow climb is still a climb right? Anything slow is better; slow-cooker dinner, slow churned ice cream, and even weight loss at a slow but steady pace is better and more likely to “stick” in life. I wasn’t expecting Lamoni to “snap” out of his depression. There would be a recession to that. I knew it was going to take time – and I had plenty of time, patience, faith, and love.

Now bring on the next Spartan Race! Aroo! Aroo!


I’d like to introduce you to Lamoni. He is an exceptional husband, father, friend, warrior, finisher and competitor among other things. He has been through many of life’s highs (very high) and lows (very low) and has found a way to combat what he calls the “dirty birds” – negative voices in our heads.

We decided to start this blog to document Lamoni’s journey. (I’m Cami, his wife, and the person who will be writing most of the posts and typing all of them.) We have envisioned this blog as a documentary and a learning tool for our children, family and friends – but hopefully we can inspire others in their obstacles and journeys as well.  I have two warnings for our readers. . . First: I have never been nor will I ever be a good writer. Writing has always been a struggle for me, but I feel Lamoni’s story is too important to be worrying about my silly writing skills. Second: This blog is not going to be all happy and encouraging all the time — because that’s not how life is.  We have definitely learned that, and I know all of you know that as well. Lamoni doesn’t want to “pretend” that having obstacles and difficulties is easy and you can/should just smile your way through them. He will “tell it like it is”. He does strive to be an inspiration and to uplift people, but he also wants to be real. Life is real, and sometimes life sucks. We want to share the “day-in-the-life” story as it really is – REAL.

Let’s start with a quick overview of Lamoni’s journey through life so far. When he was 5 years old he was involved in a lawnmower accident that left him without his right foot.  When he was 16 years old he went through two leg-lengthening procedures. When he was 26 years old he voluntarily amputated his stub higher to get better prosthetics to help with his active lifestyle. This last surgery sent him into a deep depression and addiction to pain killers that lasted almost 7 years.   It has been just this last year that Lamoni has begun to fight back — to slay those dirty birds and take back his life and his mind. He wants to share his journey, his successes, and even his failures with the hopes to inspire others and give them a glimpse of a “day-in-the-life” of a peg leg racer, peg leg father, peg leg finisher, and just an all-around peg-iddy pegged of a great guy.