WESTLAKE,OHIO - Inside Building 2 of St. John's Westshore Hospital, is Hanger Clinic's workshop. Looking more like something found in a spotless factory, this workshop behind the clinic's office, examination and waiting rooms, churns out prosthetic limbs for amputees.
Certified prosthetist Christie Ferraro works the shop's tools like a life-time machinist despite her age. With a degree in engineering and now a specialty in prosthetic limbs, Ferarro has found her niche.
"I started volunteering for a prosthetist in Chicago and I really loved it, so I went back to prosthetics school. I really love my job," said Ferraro.
Good thing for Cleveland cyclist Matthew Bockbrader. Losing his leg in a boating accident in 1988, Bockbrader had a tough time feeling any motivation for years. At one time, he weighed 215 pounds, until he found success in cycling.
On Wednesday, he was in for a final tune-up at the Hanger Clinic for the special attachment at the bottom of his prosthesis for his bicycle's pedal. Ferraro tweaked and tightened his attachments in preparation for his trip to Augusta, Georgia where Bockbrader, 42, will vie for a coveted spot on the 2012 Paralympic Cycling Team and a trip to London, England.
He will have to do well in the time trails and the road race against the country's top riders to qualify.
"I eventually started to ride with a group that rides out of Spin's Bike Shop. I gravitated toward riding with the faster riders and I'd try and try to keep up with them every week and hang on. I found out about the races in the area and started competing," said Bockbrader. "I got tired of being the fat guy in the neighborhood before that, started working out and lifting weights."
Matthew's perseverance has paid off, looking trim and lean gliding through Westlake's neighborhoods. He is ready to go for the gold.
"I'd like to get a podium place in the time trials and the road race," said Bockbrader.
His words said it was "a long shot," but the look in eyes Wednesday was anything but.
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