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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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More than an amputee

Student, athlete and friend shapes the world with kindness

When freshman Bennett Von St. Paul was born, he had a deformed foot and a slightly shorter left leg than his right. The doctors were unable to create a prosthetic device around his deformed foot, so they amputated it when he was 2.

Since the procedure took place at such a young age, Bennett does not know what it’s like to live without a prosthetic leg; however, he refuses to let his prosthetic define him.

“It puts into perspective what life is when you’re different, because after a while, you get used to the questions and glances and learn to stop taking what other people think of you to heart,” said Bennett.

Bennett has a long-lasting love for sports, dating back to his childhood recreational basketball and baseball days. As he grew older, he developed a hobby for long-distance running, with one of his proudest moments entailing his recent accomplishment of completing the 2024 Shamrock 8k.

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“It’s unique to open up someone’s mind to the idea that a person with a disability can still be active and fit,” said Bennett.

Despite most amputees having separate workouts or running legs, Bennett has never had one due to the functionality of his prosthetic. He uses the same leg for running, hiking, tennis and everyday activities.

“Over the past three years, I’ve snapped two separate carbon fiber pieces on the leg just because of how much activity I put on them, which I think is kind of funny,” said Bennett.

Eeshan Desai, a friend of eight years, describes Bennett as the exemplary Boy Scout because he never takes shortcuts on anything he works on. P.E. teacher Christopher Barnhart and tennis captain Meilin Ranjan agree.

According to Barnhart, Bennett stood out immediately, but not for the reason most assume.

“Bennett is one of the most driven and impressive ninth graders I have ever taught. He has incredible energy and always brings 110% effort. He makes me a better teacher and person,” said Barnhart, who nominated Bennett for the Dedicated Dolphin Award.

“Bennett never complains about his prosthetic; in fact, he need not because he’s already overcome much of the obstruction it could provide,” said Ranjan. “His journey reflects incredible mental fortitude in what many claim to be the most mentally taxing sport.”

According to friends, teammates and teachers, his tenacious mindset and unconditional positivity serve as an incredible asset to the world.

“The impartial respect and treatment he shines onto others is one of the most admirable traits that Bennett has,” said Juno Paguiligan, a friend since middle school. “He holds genuine kindness and generosity towards others, without expecting it to be reciprocated.”

Eeshan agrees, stating that his favorite attribute of Bennett’s is his kindness.

“If you were able to manage to anger Bennett, you would have to truly be the worst person on the planet, to be honest with you,” said Eeshan.

This story was originally published on The Current on May 24, 2024.