Ezra Frech has a personal motto that he shares freely with others, “You can Dream it, You can Hope for it, or You can Make It Happen.” Ezra is ten years old, pretty young to have any motto at all, and even more so considering it stems from his personal struggles and triumphs in life.
He was missing fingers, a left knee, and a left fibula.
Ezra was born different – physically. He started life with what’s known as “congenital limb differences.” He was missing fingers, a left knee, and a left fibula. Ezra received his first prosthetic, a leg, at the age of eleven months.
But physical challenges didn’t stop this little boy from becoming a top-performing athlete, a striving student, and a motivational speaker. He is very emotionally mature for his age because of the physical and mental challenges he has had to face. It’s kids like Ezra who have personal mottos by the age of ten.
At two and a half years old, the little boy had surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to amputate a toe from his left foot and have it transplanted to his left hand.
When Ezra turned four, the Hangar Clinic, a company which provides prosthetic and orthotic care, was given his first cheetah running leg. The cheetah leg had a knee designed to help him play sports with other kids. You can watch Ezra running with Paralympian Sprinter, John Siciliano, HERE (37 seconds).
“I’ve learned that it’s a good thing that I was born like this.” he said.
The toe to hand transplant Frech had at two and a half years was followed by a surgery when he was five to increase the performance of his left hand. It allowed him to grasp and hang on to things. He has clocked hundreds of hours in Occupational and Physical Therapy with the goal of continuing to optimize the use of his left hand.
“I am grateful for so many things I have in my life.”
He has had a lot of support and from family and friends along the way. Having been born with congenital limb differences puts him in a group of others who were born with a variety of limb differences. According to Birth Defects Count, the International Clearinghouse of Birth Defects, and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are between two to eleven of every 10,000 babies born globally with some form of a congenital limb difference.
“If I don’t play sports every day, I feel weird.”
For Ezra, this is just the beginning.What he has accomplished both personally and philanthropically at such a young age makes this boy’s story incredible. He’s been playing in basketball leagues since he was four-years-old. He has also played baseball, soccer, and flag football. This fall he was the starting QB for his school’s flag football team and he looks forward to competing.
Frech is a multi-sport athlete. He has his blue belt in karate and last year he learned how to skateboard, which is an extremely challenging sport for an above-the-knee amputee. He has also been surfing a few times (and he loves it!) and wants to learn to snowboard this winter.
“You need to focus on what you do have versus what you don’t have.”
Ezra has set 9 national track & field records in his age group, was a ‘Rising Star’ award recipient in 2009 by the Challenged Athletes Foundation, received the Courage Award from Kobe Basketball Academy in 2013, and was a finalist for ‘Sports Illustrated’s SportsKid of the Year’ in 2014.
Ezra’s message? “Being Different is OK.”
Ezra has also been an inspiration for others since he began speaking to school children at the age of four! His message? “Being Different is OK.” He actively raises awareness for the physically challenged and shares his belief that you need to focus on what you have versus on what you don’t have.
You’d think a kid who is as passionate about athletics as Ezra would not have time for much else, but that’s not the case. He is a well-rounded student-athlete. He excels academically, is a school leader, and also participates in musicals and other drama activities. Ezra is learning to compose music and plays the guitar.
Team Ezra has raised over $400,0000 for nonprofit organizations that support the physically disabled.
It’s clear this little boy is also the inspiration behind the annual Angel City Games, a multi-sport challenge and competition for physically disabled kids, adults, wounded warriors, and some of the most elite athletic competitors. The Angel City Games provide competitive adaptive sports platform in which Ezra himself expects everyone to follow his example of “finishing well” – another message he delivers in his presentations. He is also the driving force behind Team Ezra, a non-profit with a mission to raise money for the physically disabled. Team Ezra also supports organizations such as Camp No Limits, the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and the Prosthetic Outreach Foundation, among others.