The Story Of Jarryd Wallace
Sitting in a doctor’s office in Wisconsin, Jarryd Wallace received the news that would forever change not only his life, but also his lifelong passion of running.
“Jarryd, it’s not a matter of if you lose your leg,” the doctor said. “It’s a matter of when you lose your leg.”
“You’ve got an 80-year-old leg on a 20-year-old body,” the doctor continued.
“Okay, so what are you saying?” Wallace questioned. “Like I should cut my leg off?”
Wallace wanted what most guys hope for in life — a family that he could provide for and to live a joy-filled life. But his doctor replied with disheartening news.
“Yeah man, that’s awesome, [but] that’s not realistic with what you’ve got.” From this point on, Wallace felt undoubtedly sure of his decision to move forward with the amputation of his lower right leg.
Wallace started running competitively his freshman year of high school, but has loved it since he was little.
“I ran before I walked in a sense,” says Wallace.
Not only did Wallace love running, but he was also very talented in the sport. In 2007, his junior year of high school, he was a state champion for Oconee County High School in the 800-meter and the 1600-meter races.
While accomplished as a runner at a young age, Wallace had
developed a chronic case of Compartment Syndrome, which he described as “pressure built up in the calves and it’s genetic,” saying that his “mom had it in both of her legs.”
He started noticing the pain his sophomore year of high school whenever doing high impact training or long distance running, but he was not aware that it was Compartment Syndrome until his senior year.
In November of 2007, after finishing out his last season of cross country, Wallace had surgery on his right leg. However, this led to a 60 percent loss of muscle in the lower half of his leg, starting at the knee. He spent another 10 days in the hospital that included five more surgeries that focused on getting rid of the dead muscle in his leg. At his checkup following the surgeries, Wallace was given news that he would certainly not want to hear. The doctor told him that he would not be able to run again.
But Wallace was not convinced.
Five months later on a beautiful spring day in April, it finally hit Wallace that not being able run again was a real possibility. Despite this, he hopped over the fence of his high school track, which was only a mile from home and took on a fighter mentality that said, “Screw this. This is happening.” While his fervor was strong, his right leg was the opposite. The intense pain had him “hobbling”, as he recalls, around the track and even walking. It was one lap — one physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting lap that sent Wallace to his knees in tears.
“Why me?” he yelled in anger toward God. “What did I do to
But two years later, Wallace finally came to a place on January 6, 2010 where he says he was going to “stop running from God and start running with him.”
After four months of looking through prosthetic companies and doctors, Wallace had his amputation on June 22, 2010.
“At 20-years-old, making the decision to have my leg amputated [was] probably the easiest decision I ever made because I just knew…it was God’s plan,” says Wallace.
Not only did Wallace’s faith help him in dealing with the amputation, but also the fact that he had undergone therapy to prepare him mentally for what might occur after having such an altering surgery.
Wallace’s mom, who has been with him through this long and difficult process, said that she was “in awe…that he [had] come through this incredibly well.”
Prior to his amputation, Wallace was looking at the Paralympic track and field world record list and decisively told his parents, “I want my name to be on that list.” Little did he know that about three years later he would be a three-time gold medalist and world recordholder. Wallace was also able to compete in the 2012 Paralympics in London, England.
With his calm demeanor, Wallace said confidently, “I had a desire to be a professional athlete. I had a desire to run for the United States of America. I had a desire to be in the Olympics. All those dreams have come true. I…[never] thought
imaginable that I could be a world record holder. That’s come true.”
Starting October 1, 2013, Wallace said he would be back to training for major competitions that he hopes to compete in such as the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada and the Paralympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil in 2016. Wallace said he is “taking it one year at a time.”