Archives - Cathie Pruitt

Stephanie with son Chris at workbench

Stephanie Johnson

Unbreakable Bond

Stephanie Johnson spent most of her life and career in service to others. The mother of two retired from the Marines in 1996 with the rank of Sergeant 2nd FSSG, where she worked in the administrative and legal area. She had plans to continue to work in the legal field after she left the Marines, but life had a different plan for her. Instead, she came home to take care of her sick mother.

“I needed to be close to my mom, so I took a job driving a school bus. I loved it! People may not realize how teachers, bus drivers and others who work with school children have the chance to inspire kids. It’s much more than a 9-5 job,” she said.

She would see the benefits of the care she lavished on the kids in an unexpected way in 2010. That was when she discovered that the lump on her foot that she initially noticed in xxxx while still in the Marines was back. “It first came up while I was still in uniform, and I had it checked out and it didn’t seem like much. But when it came back and I went to the doctor, it turned out that it was much more serious.” She was sent to Little Rock for a consult and son DJ went with her. That is when she discovered that she had a rare form of cancer called synoval sarcoma. “I was expecting to have the lump removed and that it would be no big deal. I was devastated to learn that not only was it cancer, but that the doctor told me that I would have to have my foot amputated. Thank the Lord I had DJ with me. He held my hand and was my rock,” she recalled.

“My mom has always been my best friend,” DJ said. “I saw how discouraged she was when she got the news, and I wanted to break down myself. But, I had to stay strong for her. She’s always been the strong one for everyone else and doesn’t take as good care of herself as she should, so I knew I was going to need to step in.”

There were no specialists in the area that were familiar with the type of cancer Stephanie had, so the surgery had to be performed in Little Rock. DJ was by her side for the entire ordeal. “I stayed in the hospital in Arkansas for two days after the surgery, and then told my doctor I wanted to go home. He was surprised and asked me if I was sure that was what I wanted. I told him I could sit at home and be in pain just as easy as I could sit there in pain. I wanted to be close to my family, so I left the hospital and went back to Louisiana.” It was a very difficult time for everyone. And while daughter Nellisha and husband Darrell were there for her, son DJ took the brunt of the situation. He had to drop out of college that semester in order to be with his mom 24/7.

He was also the one that took her to her appointments with Snell’s. “I was there at Snell’s with her the first time she walked on her prosthetic leg. It was just amazing to see her regain her mobility and confidence. I was sure all along that she would be okay, but I don’t think she was until that day,” said DJ.

Stephanie noted: “You think you love someone, and then you see what they have done for you when the time comes to make a sacrifice. The kinds of sacrifices my husband and my children made for me when I was going through all of this showed me how enduring their love for me really was.”

And the outpouring of love didn’t end there. Remember those school children that Stephanie drove every day? The families of the children got together and constructed a new accessible porch and bathroom at her house. “I was just overwhelmed with gratefulness,” she said. “I still see some of my “kids” when I am out in the community, and they tell me they want me to come back,” she laughed.

Stephanie started her journey to get a prosthesis with Snell’s and has been with them ever since. “They’re family to me now. When I first came in I was so down and not sure how the process was going to work. They took me back in the back and showed me how they make the legs and went out of their way to make me comfortable. If I had to use one word to describe the people at Snell’s it would be ‘genuine’,” she went on to say. “Karla, Mary and Derrick have gotten to be friends to me. When my mother in law passed, I called and talked to Mary and Karla and they were such a comfort to me.”

DJ went on to complete his college education at University of Louisiana at Monroe, earning a degree in criminal justice. “When he graduated in 2013, he looked and looked for a job. He became a substitute teacher for a while, but that wasn’t what he really wanted. I suggested that he talk to Mr. Snell and see if they had any openings. At first they didn’t, but then a spot came open and they interviewed DJ and he got the job. Karla said maybe the reason the others didn’t pan out was so he could come to work at Snell’s,” Stephanie remembered.

DJ shared how he feels about working at Snell’’s: “It’s the best thing in the world. Knowing that I am doing a job that affects people in a positive way. Seeing how beneficial Snell’s was to my family it’s great to see others get that same sense of joy. This is an amazing company, who really cares about our patients. We want to see them succeed and we give it our all, every day.”

Clint Snell commented: “We are proud to have D J on the staff. He shadowed Prosthetists at first, then progressed with assisting them. D J was so productive we hired him as a prosthetic technician where he has excelled. It is neat to see him working with his mom on her prosthesis. D J brings a special empathy to the job that was instilled in him from his wonderful family.”


Kade Cobb - photo credit KTBS ABC 3 - ktbs.com

Kade Cobb

From Disability to Ability: Kade Cobb doesn’t let amputation keep him off the field

Story via KTBS ABC3 with Tatum Everett (original article)

BENTON, La – It takes a certain skill-set to play football. But one Benton Middle Schooler is breaking the mold of what a football player should look like. KTBS 3 Sports Director Tatum Everett has the story of Kade Cobb, who’s not letting an amputation keep him off the field.

Fate may have throw Kade Cobb off his block, but the Benton Middle School defensive lineman is making his disability, his ability.

“I just really wanted to play football because I never played in sports until about right now,” explained Cobb.

The 5-foot-7, 160-pound, 12-year-old tried out and made the Tigers football team for the first time this year.

“He’s always wanted to and I’ve had to tell him no. We couldn’t,” said Cobb’s mother Amy Andrys.

Kade was born with fibular hemimilia, which affects the lower part of the leg. His foot had to be amputated at 14 months old, and has been wearing a prosthetic foot ever since. But life hasn’t been without its limitations.

“Sometimes they’d snap or get loose or they would split down the middle,” said Cobb.

“I just tried to make it a fun accessory until he was old enough to understand it and then begin to be proud of it. He wasn’t always confident, until this Rushfoot,” added Andrys

The Rush-Foot is an advanced prosthetic. It has given Kade the ability to do things he’s never done before, from hiking and soccer to football.

“It’s basically a new innovative foot that’s two times more flexible than a carbon fiber foot so it gives a more flexible ranger and more of a natural feel of a foot,” explained Ability Dynamic’s Paul Thrower.

“Now, he can take off. He was running bleachers last week, just for fun. Before, he had to take each step at a time and and turn to the side to get down safely. He’s not even worried anymore. He’s just so confident in his foot,” added Andrys.

Derek Wilson has been outfitting Kade with his prosthetic leg since he was six and is an amputee himself.

“Wow, it’s been holding up so far. They can do anything they want to do, just have to find a different way to do it,” said Derek Wilson with Snell’s Orthotics-Prosthetics.

“Other kids can take off at will. They don’t think about the limitations that they’re unfortunately their body has put on them. But Kade has adapted really well and although it might get him down a little bit, he always finds a way to pick himself back up and we really try to preach that to him,” described Andrys.

That attitude caught the eye of Benton Middle school head coach Wade Brooks.

“This is his first season. And honestly, I never gave him a choice, he was going to be with us. We needed him around us. He hs a lot of fight in him. He’s a good kid. He’s a good humble kid who works hard and that’s what you need. Every day he ran and it didn’t matter if he finished in last place or first or in the middle. He never ever stopped. It’s not a handicap for him, it’s just a part of life,” explained Brooks.

A light in the tunnel. That’s how Kade’s mother Amy simply put watching him run out on the field in his final game of the season, even if it was just for a couple plays.

“Pride. Not in what he’s doing for the team, or what other people think of him, but in his abilities. But that now, he has chance now to do the same things that typical kids can do. Kids who have all of their limbs. Kade always seemed to lag behind and he’s always playing catch-up and now he has the opportunity to move ahead,” said Andrys.

“I sort of feel like I have achieved something,” said Cobb.

And for the first time in his life, Kade Cobb finally feels like he has no limits.


Sydney Freeman

Little Miss Lively

Sydney barely missed being a Valentine’s Day baby—she was born on February 15, 2008. But that doesn’t keep her from winning hearts, as mom Donna says: “She is very outgoing and friendly, just talks to everyone. I can barely take her to Wal-mart unless I am planning to be there all day!”

Sydney was born with a seizure disorder and club foot. Thankfully, the seizures are under control and she is responding well to the inserts that Snell’s fits her with.

Two things that Sydney particularly loves: dressing up and her dog, Suzette. Suzette is a rescue dog that the rest of the family calls Suzi, but she insists on the full, formal name. She and sister Olivia are quite close, as one can see when the girls interact together.

Snell's: Sidney at Snell's with foot impression
Snell’s: Sidney at Snell’s with foot impression

She’s currently in the second grade and, while developmentally delayed a bit, is starting to learn her shapes, numbers and beginning to read. Her mom jokes that Sydney has her own art gallery on the fridge.

They have been going to Snell’s since she was around 2 years old, and Donna reports that: “They’ve always been very friendly, efficient and have quick turnarounds for Sydney. The folks at Snell’s are very easy to work with.”


Sawyer Brimer

The Cuteness Just Won’t Quit!

Sawyer Brimer, who was born on November 23, 2015, was what every exhausted new parent dreams of: an infant that is a great sleeper! Beginning at around 9 weeks, Sawyer slept as many as 10 hours a night. Mom Lauren and dad Sam were delighted to not join the ranks of parents who were sleepwalking during the day due to being up most of the night with their new baby.

But, at around two months of age, they noticed that the back of Sawyer’s head on the left side seemed abnormally flat. They took him to the pediatrician who reassured them that in all likelihood the problem would resolve itself once he started to sit up. That it was caused by him favoring that side when laying in his crib. As instructed, they continued to monitor the situation, but at four months, it was only getting worse. So, they got a referral to a maxillofacial specialist who scanned Sawyer’s head, and again recommended “watchful waiting” to see if the issue resolved itself.

On their return visit, the new scan showed that his head was growing in width, but that the flat side in the back was not improving. At that point, the specialist referred the Brimmers to Snell’s. The family, residents of Haughton, left for Shreveport the same day. “When we got to Snell’s they scanned him right away, and within two weeks they had his helmet ready,” Lauren says.

Snell's: Sawyer at river
Snell’s: Sawyer at river

She noted that the first couple of weeks adjusting to the helmet were a bit rough for Sawyer when he was napping or sleeping, but after that, it was smooth sailing. In fact, when they took it off for the hour a day he would go without it, he would start looking for it. “Bless his heart, if he bumped his head when he wasn’t wearing the helmet, he would just get this confused look on his face, like why did that hurt my head?” she laughed ruefully.

Lauren and Sam were rigorous about maintaining the schedule of Sawyer wearing the device 23 hours a day, and are delighted that that his treatment was successfully concluded and the helmet was removed on November 8, 2016. “His head looks amazing,” Lauren smiled. “You would never be able to tell he had been in a helmet.”

Asked about the family’s experience at Snell’s, Lauren was enthusiastic: “They were very easy to work with. You can tell they love what they do. Everyone was so sweet and genuine. When Sawyer would get anxious during scanning they would sing or talk to him to help him relax. He had appointments every two months, and his treatment went very easily every time.”

Lauren is a first grade teacher at T.L. Roads Elementary in Haughton and husband Sam is a Forrester for the Caddo Levee Board in charge of all timber. The couple has been married since 2010 and are expecting Sawyer’s new little brother in early 2017. As for Sawyer, he is starting to walk and get into everything—just like any kid his age!


Bobby Sims

Ride Fast, Jump Big

From the first time he laid eyes on a motorcycle as a little kid, Bobby Sims knew that he wanted to ride, and ride fast. He begged his parents for a bike and they gave in and bought him a mini-bike for trail riding when he was 13. “But, that wasn’t it for me. I always wanted more speed and to be able to do jumps,” Bobby said. At age 15, his grandmother accommodated him with a Honda CR 250.

Soon after, Bobby could be found out at the motocross track as often as possible. It was there that he met Wade Free, who was sponsoring another young man who needed a teammate. Wade spotted Bobby’s talent and offered to sponsor him, as well. His sponsorship paid for travel expenses, fees, motorcycles—everything surrounding competing. After racing for real the first time at age 17, Bobby was even more hooked on the sport. He continued to compete up until 2011 when he learned that he had a daughter on the way, and determined that it was time to sell his bike and get a “real” job.

But, motorcycles were in his blood: he wasn’t without a bike for long. He continued enjoying riding with his buddies as a hobby. It was on this last motorcycle, where as fate would have it, he crashed. “I was trying to throw a big “whip” and that’s what bit and I ended up injuring my leg,” he explained. He was in Texas at the time and was transported to a major hospital in the area.

His experience in Texas left much to be desired. There was conflict between surgeons regarding the best route to take between attempting to spare the limb and amputation, with the orthopedist firmly coming down on the side of amputation. As Bobby puts it: “I was laying there with my leg rotting off and finally demanded that they amputate. Even afterwards, my experience didn’t improve and my parents and I decided that it would be best for me to come back to LSU in Shreveport, where I finally got the care that I needed in order to recover.”

As Bobby reports, one positive result of his accident is that it brought him and his parents closer together. “I couldn’t really do anything for myself, and my parents were there for me to help and support me. My mom was by my side every day.”

Since a young age, Bobby had skills working on cycles—everything from re-building engines to customization. He used his expertise on his own and his buddies’ bikes. Today he is more focused on working on his Camaros and is looking forward to racing again—this time on four wheels.

When asked about Snell’s, Bobby’s response was heartfelt: “When my orthopedist asked me where I would like to go for my prosthetic care, I said Snell’s. At the time, I didn’t realize that some of my racing buddies had been going there for custom braces. But, something just drew me to them. Snell’s has been really good. I’ve been treated like family. Russell and Mary are the best! Well, everyone there is great, really.”

Bobby-motorcycle2-Snells-patientBobby wears an Otto Bock Genium x3 knee now, but that wasn’t always the case. After going through several types of knees that couldn’t take the “punishment” of his active lifestyle, it was determined that this high tech knee was his best option. That began the intense process of getting his insurance to approve and pay for it. The insurance company had deemed that the x3 was “experimental” and would not authorize it for medical necessity. “They pulled together at Snell’s, and kept on hammering at the insurance company until they approved it.”

While he is delighted to have his knee, which allows him to walk up stairs, sprint and do other activities, he is disappointed that the technology is not readily available to other active amputees without a fight.

“One of the best things about having this knee is that I can keep up with my little girl. I got her a 4-wheeler and put a governor on it so it can’t go too fast and with the x3, I can jog behind her and keep her safe when she rides. Without this knee, I couldn’t do that!”


Connie Jenkins

Let It Fly!

Connie Jenkins can do the “girly girl” thing all day long, but she can also turn on a dime and spend days at a time out in the woods, only coming back to civilization to get some laundry done, go to the grocery store and sleep a couple of nights in a “real” bed. An accomplished bow hunter, she is also a huge fan of the beach, where she spends as much time as she can when she visits her daughter and son in law who live in the Galveston area.

Connie, born in 1960, is married to Robert, a Vietnam Veteran who couldn’t be prouder of his unstoppable wife: “I have some health issues as a result of the war, and she actually is the one that takes care of me!” he declared.

Connie-archery1-Snells-patientConnie’s leg was amputated above the knee in 2000 as a result of her battle with fibro-sarcoma. “Fibro-sarcoma is a very rare form of cancer. Because of that, the doctors here had to consult with other physicians out of state to figure out how to treat me,” she said.

Her sense of humor never left her, even after the loss of her leg. One of her first legs featured socket art with a shark “biting off her leg”, complete with huge teeth and blood.

Getting back to the girly aspect. Connie works with local artist Rod Sims, owner of Simsonite Creations in Shreveport, to create both her socket art and t-shirts to match her interests. Look carefully at the photos and you will see a glimpse of her personal style, including the pedicure on her prosthetic foot.

About Snell’s, Connie says: “They’re amazing. I’ve been with them about 14 years and anything and everything I want, they work with me to get it. Russell is my prosthetist, and without him I wouldn’t be where I am today—that’s the honest truth. The other thing I love about Snell’s is that they really get how important my art is to me. I’m picky about it and they spend the time it takes to satisfy me.”

Connie and Robert have three surviving adult children, she lost a son at age 23. They are blessed with nine grandchildren, most of whom live in the Shreveport area.


Joe Vance Smith-

Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids

First Sergeant Joe Vance Smith spent 28 years serving his country in the US Army and US Army Reserves before he “hung up his boots” in 2004 He joined up in 1969 and got out in 1972, after doing a year’s tour in Vietnam. In 1980 he joined the Reserves and was called back to active duty four times: in 1991 during Desert Storm, 1995 Joint Endeavor Bosnia Conflict and the Iraqi War in 2002. During all of this combat experience, Joe never saw the inside of a Med-Evac helicopter.

“I spent 36 years working for the Federal Government,” he said. His career covered multiple jobs, in addition to his tours of duty. “As a 1SG I was in charge of making sure that everyone in my company was taken care of, what we call Beans, Bullets and Band-Aids. My responsibilities were to ensure that all the administrative areas were covered before sending reservists and National Guard soldiers off to Iraq and then receiving them back in when they returned. Essentially making sure that they were properly trained on their equipment, that they went through the medical process, etc.” He also worked as the postmaster in Cookeville, Texas for 10 years, before his retirement in 2010.

He settled in to enjoy his retirement, farming. “I have 25 acres, and run cows, turkey and chickens. I also cut hay for hay production and am getting ready to get some baby goats for the grandkids,” he smiled. Joe and wife Connie have nine grandchildren, ranging in age from two to 15 years old. With regards to their children, they are the true “yours, mine and ours” couple. Between the two of them, they have four adult children, ranging in age from 29-36, and a 17-year old that is their child together. According to Joe, wife Connie “doesn’t know what she is going to do once our 17 year old leaves home, after 31 years of raising kids!”

Strong family ties, an iron will and a positive attitude are what got him through in the dark days following the tractor accident that took his lower left leg in 2013 “It was an entirely preventable accident, I hate to say. I was digging postholes with the auger on the tractor, which is supposed to have a kill switch. The kill switch wasn’t working. Of course, I should have turned off the PTO, but decided to just jump down and knock off some dirt and jump back on. But, while I was down there, a bolt wrapped my pant leg around the shaft, tearing my foot off at the ankle.

Snell's: Joe on tractor
Snell’s: Joe on tractor

The only thing that saved me is that I called my father in law who lives on our property and he came down and immediately I called 911. I told him to tell them to send a Med-Evac, not to bother with waiting for an evaluation by a regular ambulance team. I knew it was bad.”

And that was how a soldier who had been posted to multiple tours of combat duty unscathed saw the inside of a Med-Evac helicopter close up and personal.

Joe continues: “I asked my father in law if it looked pretty bad and he said all he could see was bone, and what did I want him to do. I told him to cut me off of here. That didn’t work out so well, since all he had on him was a little pocket knife.”

Joe never lost consciousness during the ordeal. In fact, once the first responders arrived, 1SG. Joe, who had evaluated the situation and the solution, helped to direct them as to what to do to get him freed up from the shaft and on his way. He never lost his sense of humor, even after it taking an hour and a half to free him.

“Once they got me off the tractor and onto the gurney, we had to cross the field, which was littered with pot holes. I told the guys: hey, I think you missed bumping me over a couple of those pot holes.” The EMT responded: “Do you want us to go back over the ones we missed?”

Once they got him to the helicopter, the EMTs proceeded to get out a body bag. Joe, still awake and aware told them there was no need for the body bag, he wasn’t ready for that. “I think they really had the bag in order to keep from getting blood everywhere, but making quips and cutting up with those guys helped me to keep my spirits up.”

Wife Connie was at work in Longview that day, so when asked where they wanted him transported to, he asked to be taken to the hospital in Longview: “I called her at work and told her that I had messed up pretty bad and gave phone to the EMT. They let her know where they were taking me and she was there when I arrived at the hospital.”

Joe’s ordeal was just beginning. He was in the hospital for 21 days, underwent three surgeries and then spent six months in a wheelchair and re-hab before starting down the path to get a prosthesis: “I knew where I was before the accident and knew where I wanted to be after I got back on my feet. That’s what kept me going. I wasn’t going to let this slow me down. I wasn’t ready to leave my family, who surrounded me with love and support throughout the process.”

Once Joe was healed enough to consider a prosthesis, the VA presented him with a list of potential prosthetics clinics. He had already done quite a bit of research and determined that he had two “non-negotiables” on his list, a Rush Foot and a vacuum-sealed socket. “Clyde from Snell’s was there at the VA that day and I asked him if they could provide me with those two items and he said they could. He walked me through the procedure and I decided on Snell’s,” he recalled. That was the beginning of a long and mutually respectful relationship between the two men.

“I could call Clyde right now and ask if I could come in and he would say come on. I don’t have to have an appointment. He’s built me 4-5 legs now and does a great job.”

In 2016, Clyde invited Joe to speak at the company’s annual team building and educational meeting, Snell’s Stars. He had noted Joe’s positive attitude and perseverance and wanted him to share his success story with the employees.
Asked about his experience with Snell’s, Joe said: “I could give you a sales pitch for Snell’s! I would recommend them to anyone for their prosthetic needs. You can’t beat the personal touch they give patients. Thanks in a big part to Snell’s and Clyde, I am going to live a long and productive life.”

Today, Joe is still farming and not surprisingly, he does more than he really should. He pushes himself hard every day, and some days suffers the consequences with soreness and tingles in his residual limb. “I told my daddy that retirement is fine as long as you don’t let yourself sit around and just get old. That will kill you.”

That being the criteria, we can happily expect Joe to be around for a very long time.


Jacob Hein

Rough Start Turns Into a Blessing

Stephanie Thompson first met Jacob, when she was assigned to his case through her job as a home health nurse. She instantly fell head over heels for the sweet little boy that was having a very difficult time. There was such a connection she told his family that even after he grew older and she wasn’t his nurse anymore, she would still stay in touch with him.

As it turned out, less than six months, he would become her son.

“Jacob was staying with his aunt and uncle when I first started working with him. Then his mother asked for him back, so I started to treat him at her home. One day, his mother asked me if I could take Jacob. Since I often took him to doctors’ appointments and the like, I asked her where did she want me to take him,” she chuckled.

The answer? She wanted Stephany to adopt Jacob. Jacob was eight months old at the time and couldn’t sit up by himself or crawl. He was on a feeding tube, breathing machine and apnea device. He was suffering from failure to thrive and from a neurological disorder called CMT, which is a genetic condition that causes smaller, weaker muscles in the feet and legs. CMT is related to muscular dystrophy type conditions.

Stephany was not deterred by his health issues, but as a single mother of five, felt like it was a family decision: “I prayed about it and talked to the kids very openly about the responsibility this would place on the entire family, and my kids were all for the adoption.” So, she and his social worker waded through the paperwork and she brought Jacob home to his new family.

His new brothers and sisters doted on Jacob and after the first couple of weeks, he responded to the outpouring of love. He quickly learned that it was okay to cry and that when he did, he would get the attention he needed. “The kids treated him like a real life baby doll!” said Stephany.

Snell's: Jacob at State Fair
Snell’s: Jacob at State Fair

While Jacob and the family were finding the adjustment smooth sailing, they were hit by utterly devastating news two months after the adoption. Oldest brother Daniel was diagnosed with a brain tumor. “I had to take Daniel to St. Jude in Memphis multiple times for treatment, so had to make arrangements to make sure Jacob was well taken care of while I was away. One of the most astounding questions I got was ‘what are you going to do about Jacob now?’. I was polite about it, but thinking inside that he’s a little boy, not a puppy that I can return or take to the pound!” she said.

But the positives of having Jacob as her son well outweigh any other considerations. Within weeks after the adoption, Jacob was improving dramatically. He began to take bottles and was relieved of the feeding tube. He started breathing on his own, and sitting up by himself. Today, he walks, eats regular food and is an active 4-year old. Jacob is getting ready to start pre-school, as well. “He will be going to a special pre-school where he can get physical therapy for his legs. Apparently, the muscles are shortening up faster than we thought, even though we do his exercises with him every day. His braces help quite a bit, though,” stated his mom. While Jacob has some developmental delays, his mom, brothers and sisters read to him regularly, help him practice identifying shapes and learning his numbers. Says Stephany: “He will take a book into Daniel’s room before bed every night and sit in his little chair and “read” to him.”

Snell’s fits Jacob with ankle knee orthotics and Stephany couldn’t be more pleased with his care there. “They’re awesome! He sees Clyde every time so Clyde knows exactly what is going on with Jacob. He’s not working from someone else’s notes and trying to catch up. Everyone there is kind and courteous. Jacob was a little standoffish at first, but now he comes in like he owns the place!” she laughed.


James Marshall

In Support of Santa

James Marshall knows how to make kids smile. The retired special education teacher for Caddo Parish spent his career working with at-risk kids at Hamilton Terrace and Rutherford House Residential Treatment Center. He now stays busy creating fascinating glass skull art, playing Santa as a photographer’s model around the Shreveport area and bringing Christmas cheer to nursing homes in San Antonio, TX.

“I really love going to the nursing homes as Santa when I visit my daughter every year in Texas. My wife, who dresses in full regalia as Mrs. Claus, and I take our three Chihuahuas, Maggie, Missy and Mickey, around to visit the residents and it brings us so much joy,” James said.

Snell’s fits James with an Ossur Medial Unloader knee brace, shoe inserts and build ups to help treat his arthritis. “I had been to three other practitioners before I found Snell’s and Snell’s by far exceeds any of them in terms of quality and service: they are superb. I have a one inch difference in leg length on my right side and Rebekkah over there takes great care in how she customizes my shoes so that you can’t even tell there is a difference. And, my shoes don’t fall apart in a few months like they did when I went to other clinics. I have shoes now that Rebekkah did for me that are still in great condition years later. I also like the fact that I don’t have to wait for more than a few minutes when I go for my appointments and that they get me in and out as quickly as possible. Something you don’t see everyday anymore,” James noted.

James is a Vietnam veteran, who served in the 101st Airborne Division. He served in Vietnam 1968-1969.

He has been married to Melinda for 35 years and has two adult children and five grandchildren. He credits family with being the reason he is still around after serious complications from hip replacement surgery in 2014: “I just wasn’t ready to leave them yet.”


Harvey Gafford

Walking in the Light

Harvey Gafford grew up on the receiving end of a whole lot of love. Not surprising since he was the 14th out of 13 sisters and five brothers. They grew up on a farm in Brownwall, Louisiana, not far from Shreveport. “I miss that sometimes. We have all grown up and gone our own ways, and 5 of my siblings have passed,” he mused.

Today, his mission is to minister to others both in daily life and as a Deacon in his church: “I am just trying to walk with God. If the pictures ya’ll took of me help anyone who is going through something similar, that’s what I’m all about,” he said.

It wasn’t always like that for Harvey. As he says, one mistake at age 18 “cost my family and me nearly everything.” He is referring having been shot with in the groin a 12- gauge shotgun at that age. “I still get déjà vu about that night sometimes. It was September 13, 1972,” he recounted. The gunshot initially left him with drop foot and partial paralysis in his right leg. However, in his work as a hospital janitor, over the years he had more and more issues with his leg.

“I couldn’t feel my foot very well and, of course was on my feet all the time at work. It started out with getting an infection in my toes and I lost half my foot. Then, I kept on getting infections after that, to the point that I had to have my leg amputated below the knee,” he said.

About Snell’s: “They have kept me going over the years. I was going to another clinic before Snell’s and had nothing but trouble with the legs they made me. One time I was riding the bus and the strap broke on my leg. I had to sit there on the bus and tie it back on so I could get home.

Not long after that, one afternoon I was at a gas station and saw a young man with a prosthesis. We got talking and he told me he worked for Snell’s and to come by. That’s how I got started going to Snell’s and have been happy ever since.”

Coming full circle on big families, Harvey and wife Sandra who have been together for 40 years have five adult children and 10 grandchildren!