Perryville Teen Plays Volleyball Despite Leg Amputation

LINDSAY JONES/Associated Press

PERRYVILLE, Mo. (AP) – Dru Hemmann is one tough cookie.

Since an ATV accident in May led to her left leg being amputated above the knee, the 14-year-old Perryville High School freshman has bulldozed her way through 12 surgical procedures and, now, an ill-fitting prosthetic device her mother expects to be repaired by next week.

“We just pad it up as best we can,” her mom, Tracy, said of the prosthetic. “She’s not one to sit in a wheelchair unless she absolutely has to.”

Although Hemmann was fitted for the prosthetic in July, her leg, which was amputated about 3 inches above the knee, has shrunk, making the device too loose at the joint.

But nothing seems to stop Hemmann from doing the things she loves, including playing volleyball and practicing with her friends.

She might be slower, more deliberate and less agile than in years past, but she gets the job done.

“She will dive and land flat on the floor,” her mom told The Southeast Missourian. “She definitely gives it 110 (percent).”

The family’s hope is to get a new prosthetic device especially for athletes so Hemmann can reclaim some of her moves.

On May 29, Hemmann was evacuated by helicopter to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis after sustaining serious injuries in the ATV accident off Perry County Road 734, according to a crash report from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

She had been out riding with friends and family when the accident took place.

“All of this happened so fast; I think it was just loose gravel she hit,” Tracy said.

Although doctors tried to save Hemmann’s leg the most severe injury she sustained in the crash they couldn’t.

As if that weren’t enough to deal with, the accident occurred just weeks after the eighth-grader had been named Female Athlete of the Year for her performances in volleyball and track.

To say the past few months have been an adjustment is an understatement.

“I’ve just kind of realized that this is it, and (I) just have to deal with it, get back to normal life,” Dru Hemmann said.

To Hemmann, that means confronting every possible obstacle without asking for help, though her mom said people would be happy to lend a hand.

The outpouring of support since the accident has been extensive.

“Oh, my gosh, it’s unbelievable. It’s overwhelming,” Tracy Hemmann said. “I never even could have imagined how everybody has helped us even people we don’t know.”

Perhaps one of the most remarkable efforts came Aug. 23, when the Valle Catholic High School Warriors the opposing team presented Dru with a check for $800 to be put toward her medical costs. They gave her a standing ovation before the volleyball match with Perryville began.

Now, another fundraiser is planned to help the Hemmann family with Dru’s medical expenses.

On Sept. 16, Perryville High School plans to hold a Glow Stroll Community Fun Walk/Run after the football game between the Perryville Pirates and the St. Vincent Indians.

The walk/run will stretch for 1 1/2 miles from the District 32 campus to the city park, along the Hike and Bike Trail and back to campus.

Anyone who wishes to participate should register during the game and is encouraged to wear glow necklaces and costumes.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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