Motivated by his own supporters, Md. man gives back to DC-area amputee community

Greg Hourigan meets with other amputees at Top Golf. (Courtesy Greg Hourigan)
Greg Hourigan plays golf. (Courtesy Greg Hourigan)
Greg Hourigan and fellow amputees at a rehabilitation clinic. (Courtesy Greg Hourigan)
Greg Hourigan poses for a photo at a physical therapy session. (Courtesy Greg Hourigan)

In June 2012, Greg Hourigan started aggressive chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which he described as a “pretty nasty leukemia.”

In the middle of that chemotherapy treatment, he developed a bacterial infection. He got sepsis, and then went into septic shock. Ultimately, both of his legs had to be amputated.

Soon thereafter, Hourigan’s life came to a halt. He had to set new boundaries and figure out what goals he wanted to achieve, and how to adjust to a new normal.

At first, he said, that took getting used to. Sometimes, he’d forget he couldn’t get out of bed without prosthetics.

But with the help of prosthetics and physical therapists, and the support of family and other D.C.-area amputees, Hourigan is fully immersed in his new reality. He can garden, ride his bike, swim in the ocean and hike along uneven terrain. He mows the lawn of his Rockville, Maryland, home, walks the dog and dances with his wife.

Now, he’s inspiring others with similar life experiences to find a support system, get out there and stay active.

April is Limb Loss Awareness Month, known as a time to recognize the millions of people living with limb loss and limb difference. A study released in February found there are a combined 5.7 million people in the U.S. living with limb loss or limb difference, Hourigan told WTOP.

But Hourigan’s efforts to support others with limb losses extend beyond a few weeks of the year.

“It starts with just coming to the realization that you’ve lost your limbs, and that life is going to be different,” Hourigan said. “And that there’s always a lot of help along the way from different types of people.”

About a month after getting his legs amputated, Hourigan was inspired by some of those people. As he was getting fitted for prosthetics at a rehab center, a friend walked in and mentioned a support group for amputees.

He was one of a handful of people to join the group. But now, years later, the group has grown to include 50 or 60 people, Hourigan said. They meet each month on a Thursday. Sometimes there are guest speakers.

Group members also go sailing or to Top Golf.

“All of a sudden, you’re not like you were,” Hourigan said. “No questions are stupid.”

Hourigan reminds people of that routinely. Whether it’s about skin care, or finding the right prosthetics, he’s working to make sure other amputees know they’re not alone.

“People start to realize how important it is to be around people in the same situations that you’re in, and they look at you and they see, ‘Hey, at least these guys are kind of normal.’ It gives encouragement to a lot of people, it really does,” Hourigan said.

Outside of the group, Hourigan spends time advocating for better prosthetic laws, specifically regarding insurance companies covering prosthetics for amputees. The Maryland General Assembly, he said, recently passed legislation to enable someone to be eligible for more than one pair of prosthetics.

In September, he’ll be participating in a 5K Run Walk and Wheel to raise money for amputee awareness.

And through his prosthetic company, he mentors Ukrainian soldiers who come to Maryland to get prosthetics.

“It’s kind of cool how their attitudes change when they see me walking in and going up and down stairs and hear my stories,” Hourigan said.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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