Stories

Muji Karim

His name is Mujahid Karim, or Muji for short. Muji is originally from Brooklyn New York. His family moved to Burlington Vermont when his mother became a teacher at UVM so he thinks of himself as being from Burlington. He studied finance management and policy and he works now as an independent financial agent. He also does marketing and branding for Partners Healthcare. On the side, as a personal mission, he is also a peer volunteer at Brigham and Women’s, Mass General, and Spaulding Hospitals where he can share his experiences and is successes with people going through very difficult times ith their new found disability. To top it off, Muji also does motivational speaking. He met his girlfriend when they were 15 years old. She too is from Burlington Vermont. They have a son, Cassius Karim, who is three months old. Muji had one life before August 21, 2011 but after that day his old life was gone and he and his girlfriend had to build a new one. That was the day Muji was in a horrible car accident. Backing up a few years first, Muji was Captain and All-conference strong safety and outside linebacker at the University of New Hampshire. An elite athlete through and through. After he graduated, he was brought in for a try out by the Cleveland Browns and was placed on the practice squad. But then, on that August night, he was a passenger in the vehicle that his brother was driving. They were on their way back home when his brother lost control of the car and they struck a tree. The car immediately caught fire and they were trapped inside. Muji doesn’t remember anything nor does he have any flashbacks of the accident because he was asleep when it occurred. Due to the seriousness of the injuries and the extent of his burns, he was placed in a medically induced coma for three weeks. When he awoke and realized the extent of his injuries the reality of his situation was unimaginable to him. He had lost one leg above the knee, one below the knee, his right hand was burned off, and he had burns over the majority of his body. He told me, “There were many nights when I debated silently whether I was happy I survived. Luckily I had the support, mental strength, and self-confidence to begin the attempt of putting my life back together.” After a long healing period, Muji was fitted with two prosthetic legs. Initially he found that wearing the prosthetics was very challenging and at times seemed impossible. This is an elite athlete and naturally he has a competitive spirit so although learning to use the prosthetics was tough, giving up was never an option to him. One of the worst parts of adjusting to life with prosthetics for him was the fact that he had to reconcile with the reality that he was no longer an elite athlete, which up until this point was something that defined him. At this point, Muji’s prosthetist, who happens to also be mine, called me and employed me to look into Muji’s situation and to get to know Muji because Arthur knew I would fall in love and want the foundation to help Muji. An elite athlete confined to walking prosthetics—no matter how soDSCN0838phisticated the technology—is a thoroughbred horse confined to the smallest of paddocks. How could I not help him? The Who Says I Can’t Foundation bought Muji his above knee prosthesis and NextStep, where Arthur works, agreed to pitch in on the below knee one. When Muji received the running legs he saw and still sees it as an opportunity to become that athlete he once was. When he ran with the running legs for the first time he told me it was a very liberating feeling. It felt very good to be able to move fast again. This is the beginning of recovering one’s self-esteem my foundation—my entire being—is about. Muji said, “Having a foundation like yours plays an essential role in bettering the quality of life of people who have lost limbs. Without your foundation I would not have gotten my running legs when I did. And ultimately would have been denied the joy I felt from being able to run again. Thank you for all that you do.” Here is Muji’s progression in a short video. Many more to come over the next several months. Final thought. Muji after four weeks is being clocked at just shy of Paralympic speeds and I will not be at all surprised if this elite athlete enters the Paralympics in Rio. Here’s the video of Muji doing his thing so well!

Muji Running (2:28)

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