FALMOUTH — After losing his left leg to cancer six years ago, John LeMieux founded the Amputee Association of Maine with the goal of empowering and supporting other amputees.
On his road to recovery, LeMieux participated in a golf tournament with friends, which gave him the idea of holding a similar event to raise money and awareness for the Amputee Association of Maine.
Next week the association will hold its second annual golf fundraiser at the Falmouth Country Club, where amputees and other golfers will take to the links to test their skill.
The two-day tournament is full, but registration is still open for a July 23 scramble that opens at 1 p.m. with a shotgun start. The entry fee is $125 per person or $450 for a foursome.
In addition, the Amputee Association of Maine is holding a free adaptive golf clinic 1-4 p.m. July 22 at the Freeport Country Club. The clinic includes practice with driving, chipping, putting and sand play using long and short irons.
LeMieux, who is a principal with the Anton LeMieux Financial Group at Foreside Place on Route 1, is a member of Portland’s Disability Advisory Committee. He also previously served on the boards of the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce and Institute of Family Owned Business.
He was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2011, after experiencing muscle pain in his left thigh. An ultrasound found a lesion on the deep muscle of that leg and he underwent both surgery and radiation to treat the cancer.
To celebrate what he thought was a successful treatment, LeMieux began training for a 10K road race.
“I finished that race and another in August and everyone thought the cancer was behind me, until my leg began to ache (again) in late September of 2012,” he said.
When it was confirmed the cancer had returned, LeMieux’s doctors in Portland said he had too little muscle and tissue remaining and that an amputation was needed to save his life.
Thanks to a new procedure practiced at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, he had the opportunity to be fitted with a prosthetic and the chance to walk again without crutches.
“So, at age 53 I went in for a surgery normally performed on young children and came out with a new lease on life,” LeMieux said. “Since the surgery I walk without a cane and my golf handicap is lower than it was before the surgery. In fact I scored a hole-in-one only three months after getting my first artificial leg. I walk for exercise and have (also) become an avid handcyclist.”
LeMieux now focuses on the Amputee Association of Maine and said his hope for the upcoming golf events is to expand the group’s outreach and to increase awareness about amputees and their challenges, as well as their abilities.
“My involvement with the Amputee Association of Maine is my attempt to give back to all of the friends, family and professionals who have supported me through these recent years and the changes I have experienced,” he said.
LeMieux said the Maine Amputee Open tournament welcomes amputee golfers from several East Coast states. Last year’s inaugural event was won by an amputee from Massachusetts, who beat an able-bodied, single-digit handicap golfer from Maine for the title.
“Many golfers have never played with an amputee,” LeMieux said. “By playing side-by-side we raise awareness.”
John LeMieux lost his left leg to cancer in 2012. Now his golf game is better than ever and he uses the sport as a venue to raise money and awareness for Amputee Association of Maine, which he founded to help other amputees.