Wiggle Your Toes offers help to Boston Marathon amputees - FOX 35 News Orlando

Wiggle Your Toes Foundation offers help to Boston Marathon amputees

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There will undoubtedly be difficult days ahead for many of those wounded in the Boston Marathon bombing, but one local organization is stepping up to help those whose lives have been changed forever.

The Wiggle Your Toes Foundation, which was founded by an amputee, helps provide emotional and financial support to amputees by directing them to the resources they need to get their life moving forward.

"This is probably two days after the accident. I was very lucky to be alive," recalled Aaron Holm as he showed pictures to FOX 9 News.

Holm knows exactly how it feels to lose your legs because he was struck by a car traveling 55 miles an hour on the shoulder of a highway.

"You're completely lost. You have no idea what happened, why it happened," Holm explained. "Then, you start thinking forward, trying to figure out what the rest of your life is going to look like."

While Holm was in the hospital, he found very few resources for amputees. So, after he healed, he created an organization to help others like him.

"We put together the organization 'Wiggle Your Toes,' which ultimately gives back to people like the people in Boston, [who] are in their hospital beds wondering what the rest of their life looks like," Holm said.

Hours after the bombs went off near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, Wiggle your Toes was already connected with four victims. They are also donating $10,000 and urging others to help those in need.

"It's going to make their lives easier," Holm said. "They're missing work. Bills still come in; medical bills rise. There's still life to pay for and they are sitting idle in the hospital right now."

For Iraq War veteran John Kriesel, the terror attack brought back difficult memories.

"It's tough and it brings back memories, but I know firsthand life isn't over when you lose limbs," Kriesel told FOX 9 News.

In 2006, Kriesel lost his legs when his vehicle was struck by a 200-pound improvised explosive device. The difference, Kriesel told FOX 9 News, is that he signed up to take on that risk.

"You know you are going to be in harm's way. That's part of the deal," he said. "Civilians back here shouldn't be at that risk."

While he watched reports of the bombings unfold, Kriesel said he knew others will now need to struggle as he did to cope with the change.

"Stay strong, stay positive," he urged the victims. "Your life isn't over."

Both Holm and Kriesel said they have a message for amputees sitting in Boston hospitals, and the core message is: You're not alone and there is still much life to lead.

"I've learned that, despite my injuries, I can still do the things I love, the things I have passion for," Kriesel, also a former Minnesota representative, said. "It's going to take time and you'll have your ups and downs, and on those tough days, think of your family. Think of the loved ones and be thankful you lived through something that other people didn't."

Out of respect for the victims, Wiggle Your Toes does not solicit patients in need. Instead, they wait for them to reach out. That's why they're urging people to share their information on Facebook and Twitter in the hopes that it will reach someone in need.

"I would get on a plane tomorrow if I could," Holm said. "If I had an invitation out there and somebody wanted to know what I'm doing, how I'm doing, we would be able to get out there tomorrow."

Anyone who wishes to learn more about, or donate to, the Wiggle Your Toes Foundation can find them online here: www.wiggleyourtoes.org

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