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Athlete tackles life after serious injury
Spotsylvania boy has part of his right leg amputated but is on the road to recovery

 Chris Johann helps Jeremy Klingbeil work on his balance and strength during a physical therapy session. The 10-year-old, who lost part of his right leg in an accident this summer, was recently fitted with a prosthetic.
photos by REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/28/2012

BY JEFF BRANSCOME

For 10-year-old Jeremy Klingbeil, falling down during a recent kickball game was a source of pride.

He slipped on some mud while running for a ball. So he got back up and threw the ball to his teammates.

It may not seem like much, but it was pretty impressive for a kid who just five months earlier had his right leg amputated below the knee.

"I've been running pretty fast," said Jeremy, who lives in Spotsylvania County and received his first prosthetic in October from Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia.

"In the first month of school, I fell and everybody was freaking out, and I needed the teacher and everything," Jeremy continued. "But now I fall all the time outside, and nobody even cares."

And that's the way he likes it. As his dad, Rick Klingbeil, said, "That's healing."

Jeremy's dad doesn't go into detail about the incident that caused his son's injury.

He says Jeremy was mowing a lawn with his older brother in July and had a bad accident. His foot was mangled.

The Klingbeils had a family meeting after consulting with doctors. They decided that an amputation would be best.

"He was part of the decision-making," dad said of his son.

Shortly after Jeremy was released from the hospital, his dad received an introductory call from his son's football coach. Jeremy had signed up to play before the accident, and practice would be starting soon.

"I said, 'Well ' then I told him the story," Klingbeil said.

The coach was floored.

Klingbeil told him that Jeremy would still like to be part of the team, even though he wouldn't be able to play. The coach said to bring him out, Klingbeil recalled.

"What happened with football, that was a godsend," he said.

Jeremy attended games and practices unless he had doctor appointments. The players and coaches made him feel like part of their Redskins team--not the one-legged kid on the sidelines.

He was named co-captain, and the team bought T-shirts that said "We play with 12," referring to Jeremy's number and all 12 players.

The Redskins went undefeated in a season dedicated to Jeremy.


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INSPIRATION is a series about people who encourage others with their kindness, courage or perseverance.