Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Disabilities Don’t Limit Kurt P. White


By Dave Tompkins

Despite being born without a right arm and having a three-fingered hand
on a partial left arm, scoliosis, and a short leg, don’t call Kurt P.
White disabled. He has played golf since he was 10 and even placed in
the National Amputee Golf Tournament. He also bowls, shoots pool, hunts
with a crossbow, fishes, and drives his car without any adaptions or

“I don’t like the word ‘handicapped,’” said Kurt. “The word ‘capped’
alludes to limitations. I prefer ‘handi-capable.’ I think all of us are
born with some sort of disability, some are just more obvious than
others. Visually, mine are easier to see, but that shouldn’t limit you
from what you set your mind to. My motto is ‘live life to the fullest as
a handicapable person.’”

Growing up in Wyoming, Illinois, Kurt was the only disabled child he was
aware of in town. He spent much of his time in and out of the Shriner’s
Hospital in Oak Park, where he underwent orthopedic surgeries and
therapy to improve his mobility and independence. His spine and legs
were corrected, but attempts to provide a prosthetic arm were
unsuccessful, as Kurt didn’t find anything that worked for him.

“The last one I had was when I was a preschooler. It was basically a
hook with a rubber band that I could open or shut with my shoulder.
Later in life, one of my friends told me that he thought it was a toy
and that I wouldn’t share it with him. He was mad because no matter how
early he got to school, I always had it,” laughed Kurt.

Although he doesn’t have an artificial arm, he’s had a prosthetic leg
since junior high when his left leg was shortened even more, and his
foot was turned around 180° to allow his ankle to act like a knee.
Before then, Kurt said he had to use a brace to walk, and the brace was
little more than a peg leg. Kurt said he basically grew up at the
Shriner’s Hospital, but eventually, he was no longer eligible for their

“I was so fortunate to be a part of the Shriner’s program,” said Kurt.
“It allowed me to receive all of my surgeries, therapy, and my
prosthesis at no charge, but I was no longer qualified when I turned 18.
Artificial limbs are expensive, so I continued to use my artificial leg
as long as I could, but unfortunately, you grow, but the prosthetics
doesn’t. It got to the point where I needed something else.” That’s when
Kurt turned to Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics of Peoria.

“I met Todd McAllister (a certified prosthetist with CPO) to discuss my
needs and expectations,” said Kurt. “He looked over the type of
artificial leg I had, and he took it on as a personal challenge to make
the right one for me. He brought me into the process and gave me the
opportunity to make suggestions. I don’t think there are many that would
take the time and involve me as he did. That personal attention meant a
lot to me.”

Kurt met Todd regularly to review the process and make adjustments. That
was over 20 years ago, and Kurt continues to meet with Todd and the CPO
staff to make more adjustments and improvements.

“I am very active and independent, so I need routine maintenance,” said
Kurt. “When I call CPO, I usually tell them ‘I blew another gasket.’ In
all my time with CPO, this is my second leg. Their products really stand
the test of time. Without them, I more than likely would be confined to
a wheelchair.”

Not that that would slow Kurt down. When he’s not working at Better Bank
of Peoria, he volunteers at Children’s Hospital at OSF and is ‘on call’
to talk to parents who have a special needs child. His story, optimism,
and encouragement help them understand the blessings and challenges
they will face. This is a message that he also shares as a professional
motivational speaker to high school students, athletic teams and
churches, and any group who has a desire to remove the word “can’t” from
their vocabulary.

“I believe God has given me the tools to share the wonders of His
grace,” said Kurt. “I use my experiences to tell people not to just be
happy with figuring out a way to do something—excel at it to be the best
they can be.”

CPO has more than 20 locations including offices in the Quad-Cities, as well as the cities where the support groups meet. CPO offers innovation in prosthetics, orthotics, and pedorthics, with compassionate care and attentive customer service. You can learn more about Comprehensive Prosthetics and Orthotics, as well as find a directory of all of their locations, at www.cpousa.com; or call them for more information at 309-283-0880.

Photo courtesy of Comprehensive Prosthetics & Orthotics.