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Cody McCasland ( 2001 - )  Category ( Athletes ) [suggest a correction]

One way of looking at it is that 7-year-old Cody McCasland of Colleyville, TX has no legs. Another perspective is that he has five pairs of them.

At the age of 15 months, Cody had both legs amputated above the knee - or, rather, where his knees should have been. He was born without them, and without a femur bone in either leg.

Indeed, Cody's first two years were a nightmare. Delivered six weeks prematurely on Oct. 2, 2001 when problems developed with the amniotic fluid, he arrived with a long list of developmental deficiencies. When his mother, Tina, first held him wrapped in a blanket, he looked perfect. She didn't realize that her husband's tears were not those of joy — a doctor had already told Mike McCasland that his son wouldn't live a year.

But he did, despite serious problems with his digestive tract. He also learned to walk almost on schedule, quickly mastering the protheses.

Without the amputation procedure, Cody would have been sentenced to life in a wheelchair, his legs unable to support his weight.

"It was a tough decision," said Mike McCasland, "but it was the best decision we could have made."

Cody now has one set of prostheses for sports, another that bring him lower to the floor for games with friends, a set for daily use and two spares. He swims well enough to compete on an "able-bodied" swim team (the Texas River Sharks), has completed several mile and two-mile races, and already has his sights focused on the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

"I will definitely take part one day (in the Paralympics) and win a gold medal," he said.

He just isn't sure in what events.

His hero, not surprisingly, is South African sprinter Oscar "Bladerunner" Pistorius, the double amputee who almost qualified for the 2008 Olympics.

Besides the surgery on his legs, Cody has endured more than a dozen other operations. He has also survived bouts with acid reflux, asthma, a defective gall bladder and a hernia. In their first-born child's first year of life alone, the McCaslands accumulated $750,000 in medical bills — a scary figure, considering that Mike was laid off from his job with a Dallas-based Internet company a week after his son was born. Help from the community and the Challenged Athletes Foundation and free care from the Texas Scottish Rite Children's Hospital ultimately made the difference.

That's why, in 2004, Cody's family, friends and fans founded Team Cody specifically to raise money for the Scottish Rite hospital and CAF. In the past five years, with Cody as a spokesperson, the team has been able to send over $90,000 to the hospital and $3,000 plus to help with other causes.

Already, Cody has been featured on NBC News and the Ellen DeGeneres Show, making him perhaps the highest profile 7-year-old in America.

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