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Hope for the Helpless Through the Provision of Artificial Limbs & Orthopedic Braces
Savannah's David Puckett named a hero for his charitable work in Mexico
More than a quarter of a century ago, David Puckett traveled with a church group to some of the poorest parts of southeastern Mexico. What we saw there, and the people he met, made an indelible impression on him.
"It impressed a love for the people in my heart," he said. "I determined that if there was something in my life I could do to help them, I'd do it."
He's kept that promise in spades. Today, thanks to Puckett and his nonprofit organization, hundreds of poor Mexicans, some once barely able to crawl, can walk.
Inspired by a Hero - David Puckett
Saturday evening, on the stage where Academy Awards are given out and the American Idol winner is crowned, CNN bestowed one of its highest honors on 10 extraordinary people at the CNN Heroes ceremony, which is broadcast tonight on CNN.
The move to the legendary Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, inspired by the debate CNN hosted there between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in January, coupled with the unprecedented audience response — 4,000 Hero nominations from 75 countries, and over 1 million votes were cast online for Hero of the Year — have made the event, in just its second year, already an annual institution. Read more here.
PIPO Missions, Inc. In the News
"My life was sad before because I had to crawl on the ground," recalls Caesar Morales, a 24-year-old father in Mexico who, until recently, had only one limb and couldn't walk. But today, thanks to David Puckett and his U.S.-based nonprofit, Morales has new prosthetic legs. Now, he's not only able to walk, but his new found independence has made it possible for him to move to another town where he could find work.
"He lifted me up to where I am today," Morales says.
Morales isn't the only person in southeastern Mexico who credits Puckett with changing his life. Since November 2000, the certified, licensed prosthetist/orthotist from Savannah, Georgia, has been providing artificial limbs, orthopedic braces and ongoing care to hundreds in need in the communities of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and Chiapas -- free of charge. Read more here.
CNN Heroes: Bigger Is Better
How does a man become a hero? David Puckett, CPO, LPO, has spent more than nine years on a mostly solitary mission to transform the lives of indigent Mexican villagers who suffer from (discapacidades) disabilities of the limbs. He has spent more than $100,000 of his own money, sacrificed his personal life, endured crushing 16-hour days, dodged government corruption, and been regularly disappointed by people who promise to help him and then back out.
Why does he do it? The quietly impassioned Southerner quoted Shakespeare to The O&P EDGE: "Mercy...blesses him who gives it and him who receives it." He continues, "I'm able to give love. I'm able to give [my Mexican patients] my love; I'm able to share with them God's love; I'm able to share with them that there is life after disability and that they still have a chance at regaining a wonderful life. And it certainly blesses me. I'm able to see my own small problems in a different light when I'm in an area where people never otherwise would have received medical care, much less artificial-limb and orthopedic-brace care. So it's more than an opportunity for me to be able to help them; it's a tremendous opportunity to be blessed at the same time." Puckett has been blessed in this way by the more than 1,300 Mexican people to whom he has provided free O&P care and devices, clothing, medical supplies, food, and other donations.
Laurie: "For the past ten years, David you have ‘shared your heaven’ as a medical missionary fitting orthopedic braces and artificial limbs to hundreds of men, woman, and children. You are healing their hearts and souls! What has been the most profound experience for you?"
David: "The most profound was working with Cesar. Cesar was 23 years old when I first met him. He came to me dragging himself through the dirt missing both lower legs and one arm. This was from general deformities. He had never stood up. He didn’t even have a clue what walking was like. For all his life he had dragged himself through the dirt and jumped up and down on chairs and/or seats in order to interact with the rest of the world. He was somewhat of a hermit, and didn't get out very much, which would make sense considering his limitations.
When I asked him, 'what do you want me to do to help you?' Cesar said, 'I would like to stand and to walk like everyone else in the world.'
After hours of consultation and evaluation, I saw that he had a good physical strength, good health and was very optimistic. I measured him for prostheses and told him that we would make him two legs and an arm, and God willing he would be a successful prosthetic user." Read more here.
In August of 2008, a news team from CNN traveled with Savannah Prosthetist David Puckett to Chiapas, Mexico to document the life changing work his medical missions have brought to that region for the past 10 years.
The owner of Positive Image Prosthetics and Orthotics (PIPO) was chosen from over 3,700 nominees worldwide to receive recognition for his philanthropic work bringing artificial limbs and braces to indigenous patients in Mexico’s Merida, Yucatan and Chiapas regions. While he did not win CNN’s $100,000 grand prize, Puckett did win a $10,000 award and he also gained some very important contacts with charitable foundations that have since contributed over $75,000 to improve his services to these regions.
Prominent donors include the beautiful Mexican Actress Salma Hayek who donated $20,000 through her Hayek Foundation. "She has been very generous," Puckett said. "And her foundation may help us even more in the future." Read more here.
Medical Charity plans to expand efforts in Mexico