Amputee turns hardship into hope

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - With a single step, Joseph Smith began a journey he never thought he'd reach.

"I'm a little nervous," said Smith. "I've already been practicing, but it's kind of surreal, just the memory of having it happen to me."

That's the memory of losing his leg last year due to a flesh eating bacteria.

Hoping to turn the horrific incident into an opportunity for hope, Smith held a walk Sunday morning at the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge to help provide prosthetics for those who can't afford them through the non-profit organization called, "Limbs for Life".

More than 30 people came to participate, most with all their limbs. But, the true testament came from fellow amputees, who were there fighting the same fight as Smith.

"Well you know, you've got to keep going on with everyday life," said fellow amputee Robert Moore who lost his leg six years ago. "It's just a little bit of a struggle to lose a limb, but if you're attentive and go forward, you can do what every you want to do."

"It shows me that people care, you know. We care and we're Americans. We want to help other people regardless of what the problem is," said Edward Besancon who lost his leg in 2009 from a peripheral vascular disorder.

"It's huge. This is huge. I can't believe this is actually happening," said Smith. "I can't believe all the support that we have. This is immense. It breaks my heart. Kind of because all these people really care."

Smith said when he lost he leg, he felt hopeless. But on this day, exactly one year later, he's inspiring others with his resilience.

"The message of the day: Suck it up and keep going," said Smith with a smile.

"It's a good day to be alive," said Besancon "I'm happy!"

Smith said, when life gets tough just keep moving forward, one step at a time. He raised almost $1,000 or Limbs for Life.

Because of all the support, he decided to set a new goal. Next year, on July 21, Smith is going to run the bridge.

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