Byron (Buzz) Raubenheimer
Snowplanet is proud to support Buzz in his journey to the Northern Hemisphere. Donations can be made at the Snowplanet Reception.
Byron was born with a congenital anomaly with his right leg. At the age of 12 he decided to have it amputated. He is now a top 10 adaptive snowboarder in the world. He has his sights on qualifying for the Winter X Games in 2013. He is headed to Europe and North America in January in order to follow his dream... He would appreciate any help you can give him.
Make a Donation HERE
Here is his story....
I was born on March 5th 1991 with Paraxial Fibula Hemimelia. Meaning my right leg was substantially shorter than the other as well as missing my Fibula and half my foot. I had my first operation when i was about 2 months old to correct the angle of my foot, more surgeries followed to eliminate tendon pull on my leg which had started causing a bending in my lower leg. At the age of 7 I had an Ilizarov apparatus fixed to my leg, this works by holding the leg in place (which gets cut in half) and stretching the gap between the two ends of bone. It is then left on while the body repairs itself and grows more bone in the gap. Thus making the limb longer. The process takes about 4 months at a time, with little gain. I had this twice and was part of the reason i decided to amputate. I tried not to let it affect me to much, so still tried to stay active by hopping around the tennis court and cricket pitch at trainings.
When we arrived in New Zealand my parents looked for a new surgeon immediately and we were put into contact with Richard Nicoll. At my first appointment with him the first thing he mentioned was amputation. This terrified/ upset me greatly as amputation was never something my parents thought or spoke about. They were very set on trying to fix my leg and I was too. A few weeks later I was in a Phys. Ed lesson at school and realised i wanted nothing more than to be as able as the others in my class, and didn't like the fact that i had started using my leg as an excuse to get out of doing things. Nicholl had also mentioned using the Ilizarov again, which was definitly something i wanted to avoid due to the little gain it offers!! I went home from school that day and told my parents i'd had enough and wanted to amputate. They were very supportive/ proud of my decision even though they had put so much effort into trying to fix it. So we went to see Dr. Nicholl again and he said the amputation could go ahead in 2 weeks. Which was terrifying!! The 2 weeks passed very quickly and my family and i found ourselves nervously waiting in the hospital ward for me to be taken in to surgery. A few hours later i woke up dazed and confused and looked under the blankets to see a neatly plastered leg with no foot attached. An oddly relieving feeling to be honest. After a few weeks recovering in the hospital it was time to leave. Not as easy at it sounds as there were drain hoses stitched to my leg which had to be removed before leaving. Lets just say it was my least favorite part of the experience. I was very happy to be getting back home though!! I had about 2 months of recovery and bandaging my stump to achieve a decent shape before i could get molded for my first prosthetic. I will never forget my first steps on my prosthetic, as i am sure any amputee will tell you they are both terrifying and rewarding at the same time. It's a strange feeling to try to put wheight on your foot when there is no foot there. It took a few weeks to get used to but my teacher and class mates made rehabilitation at school very easy as they were all very supportive.
A few months after the amputation i started college where i joined the cricket team and got 2 wickets off the first 2 balls I bowled after my amputation. This was a very successful re-introduction to competitive sport. College also brought me new friends who introduced me to a new hobby. Downhill Mountain Biking became my new passion and is still something i love to do today. This is definitely what got me into extreme sports. I also started rockclimbing. After a few years of being an amputee I had to have a second amputation because i had grown too much and my bone was going to start pushing through my skin. The second amputation was much easier as I knew what to expect.
It was only after my second amputation that Auckland met a rainy day, and a friend and I decided to go learn how to snowboard at Snowplanet. After a few faceplants I decided i really loved the sport and the challenged it offered! So i kept going as often as i could and bought myself my first board. Then a year passed, and I went a couple of times a week trying to figure out how to do the tricks everyone else could do... with one leg. A year later my first winter season arrived and I couldn't have been more excited to get to the mountain for the first time! I went for a day of two before running into some troubles with my prosthetic. While at the limb center i saw a flyer for Adaptive snowboarding and got in contact with Carl Murphy (World No. 2). He was excited to hear from me, so he invited me down to Ruapehu to ride with him. After a days riding he was impressed with my riding and invited me down to Wanaka to train with him and his coach Adam Dooney. So i went down for a week which was such an amazing experience. This is where i met Jamie Lane. Jamie and I had a morning riding together and it was organised after this that he would coach me in Auckland over summer. Having such an amazing facility available, and an awesome coach has been so beneficial to my riding. I could have never placed 5th in my first World Cup event without it!!
Earlier this year I headed down to Wanaka to continue training with Carl, Adam and Jamie for the Para-snowboard World Cup. Which was part of the NZ Winter Games. While down there I was nominated for 'Emerging Talent of the Year' at the SSNZ Annual Awards. Which was such an honour. So after a few more weeks training, race day crept up on me really fast and before I knew it I was stood at the start gate for the race. I survived my first ever run in a Professional race with no mistakes! Such a relief. Going into my second run I was sitting in 4th place, but crashed on one of the last corners of the run. I was a lot more conservative going into my final run so I could have two decent times. Which then get added together and altered depending on your disability rating. Apart from one, all racers where below knee amputees like myself. So the times where all quite close. I placed 5th with my times not far off 4th and 3rd. So a podium position is definitely something I will be working hard with Jamie to achieve in the Northern Hemisphere early next year.
My goals for the next year are to progress as much as possible over the summer at Snowplanet, and head overseas with a standard of riding that can get me a medal for New Zealand. There will be events in Canada, America and France in March and April next year. It would be ideal to be able to get to all these events next year and make myself known to the competition early on in my career, another goal of mine is to get invited to the X-Games so ranking high up as fast as possible is vital! Unfortunately getting overseas and being able to stay for all the events is free and as I am still quite new to competing there isn't funding available to me from SPARC. So any money is going to be from my own pocket and fundraising.
I would like to thank everyone in advance for all the support that has been offered to me and the contributions made