The latest New Yorker of the Week has been a patient at the Hospital for Special Surgery since he was eight months old. Now 16, he walks, runs, and inspires younger kids to believe in themselves, too. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
A handball court is just one of places you'll find 16-year-old James Lozano. He plays baseball, wrestles for his high school team and snowboards. This Queens native never lets his prosthetic legs slow him down.
"I see it as, like, an advantage, because they're like, I don't know, bionic. I don't need shin guards," Lozano said.
James was born with a rare deformity. At barely a year old, he faced a life-changing experience.
"When we had to endure the situation with James, the surgery, the amputation of his legs, it was very difficult for us," Gloria Lozano, James' mother, said through an interpreter. "Through that situation, we learned to give as much as we receive."
James received support at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Now, he offers it. Doctors invite James to help children and families overcome similar surgeries.
For years, he never said no.
"What we love about James is his positive attitude," said Daniel Green, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery. "James has been one of those patients where he'll come the same day and say, 'Sure, Doc, I'll be there. What time do you need me?'"
James inspired Angel Alvarenga after his family learned on his 10th birthday that he needed an amputation.
"I see these legs, Knicks legs. I thought they were so cool," said Christina Rivera, Angel's mother. "I was like, 'Angel, look at that,' and he's like, 'Mom, I want those legs.'"
Reactions like that are why James and his family keep giving back.
"He has made his life an example to others, and we are extremely proud of him," his father, James Lozano Sr., said through an interpreter.
"I just really appreciate them. They came out at just such short notice to see my son and to help me through this. It's not easy signing a paper to say you want to cut your son's leg off," Rivera said. "If James is happy, so can my son be happy, and that's it."
"I just want to make the world a better place, help kids, help anybody that's in need and show them they could be normal, because this is normal. It's not anything different," James said.
So, for motivating kids to live life without limitations, James Lozano is our New Yorker of the Week.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about the Hospital for Special Surgery and the work they do, go to hss.edu.