Tolosa Gunefa – Portrait of a Runner

by John Downey

In 1998, Tolosa Gunefa lost the lower part of his left leg to a car accident and thereafter outfitted with a prosthesis.  While he continued running, the older polyurethane technology and leather straps constricted blood flow and development of the muscles around the knee.  Two weeks ago however, Tolosa got a new lease on running with a carbon-fiber replacement.  Zeon DeWet, an Orsthotist/Prosthetist with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Addis Ababa and good friend, was beaming when Tolosa first stood up on his new foot and grinned.  This was the first time an Ethiopian was outfitted with a carbon fiber sports prosthesis and immediately, I understood the impact.  Amputees and other disabled shouldn’t settle for just getting around.  Opportunities like this provide quality of life, inspire others and promote advance prosthetic technology.

Congratulations to the ICRC, Zeon and of course Tolosa.  I hope this milestone is noticed by the Ethiopian government and international donors to promote more sport prosthetic development.

Tolosa finished the Great Ethiopian 10k last Sunday in well under one hour.

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