My name is John Mabry. I am a husband, father of two amazing boys – Larson and Austin – an amateur photographer, world traveler, recovering actor and stuntman, triathlete and…oh yeah, I have one leg. And now, I work at Swiftwick on a super-cool project I can’t wait to tell you about.
I lost my right leg below the knee as the result of a car accident in Texas in 2000. Since my amputation I have obtained my Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling, worked with hundreds of athletes with disabilities (para-athlete). I have seen prosthetic technology make huge strides over the last decade, helping para-athletes do things no one dreamed of until recent years.
However, one area of the prosthetic industry that has made very little progress is in managing sweat and moisture accumulation inside the prosthesis. I figured I, along with the millions of amputees around the world, was destined to always accumulate sweat inside the prosthetic socket and liner.
It frustrates me and other amputees that we have to take our prosthetics off to dump sweat out, dry off our limbs and reassemble the entire system. But if you don’t do it you get blisters and infections on your limb. Apparently the market wasn’t demanding enough to do anything about it. I’ve been dissatisfied for as long as I can remember, always looking for a solution, but never finding one. A paradigm shift began to occur two years ago when I met Mark Cleveland, President and Co-Founder at Swiftwick.
Swiftwick manufactures high performance compression socks for some of the world’s most elite athletes. Mark gave me my first pair of Swiftwick compression socks at the Nashville Muddy Buddy in 2010. I was absolutely blown away at the comfort and feel of these high performance compression socks. That next week I emailed my resume in to the company asking for a job.
Although my first meeting with Mark did not result in a job, it did give us a chance to begin discussing how Swiftwick’s moisture wicking socks could make a huge impact in the amputee community by effectively managing the sweat buildup inside an amputee’s prosthesis. Over the next two years I was actually offered a job on more than one occasion, but the timing for me to come on board wasn’t there. I stayed in touch with Mark and continued to follow the company’s success. All along, I found myself talking to all my friends and family about how much I loved these incredible socks that I was now wearing full time. I was addicted and I wanted to get other people addicted, too!
Through some God-inspired interventions that included Tammy Sanders at Fleet Feet in Brentwood, TN, Aaron Fitzsimmons with the Amputee Blade Runners and the latest and greatest technology developed by Swiftwick, the amputee “stump” sock project all came together in April 2012.
Our first amputee runner to test a Swiftwick sock on her amputated limb was Laura Mullen. Lauren is a below knee amputee. We gave her one of our newly developed and specially released socks at the Country Music Marathon. She put on the new 168 needle count TWELVE to wear during her ½ Marathon. Typically, Laura can only run about 3-miles before having to stop, take her leg off, dump sweat out, dry her limb and liner off and put everything back on again. However, wearing the Swiftwick sock allowed her to run 9-miles before having to stop to adjust her leg. We’re talking new PR, here!!
If wearing an off the shelf Swiftwick sock could triple one amputee runner’s distance before having to adjust, what could a Swiftwick sock specifically engineered to meet the unique shapes and sizes of amputee’s limbs do for all amputees? How many more personal records, or even world records, could be broken? Looking at the bigger picture, how many amputees’ lives can we improve around the world by providing a solution that helps reduce sweat build up and blistering during normal day-to-day activies?
For the past couple of weeks Mark and I, along with his team of sock engineers and designers have been hashing out several generations of trial “stump” socks for amputees. And thanks to the time and efforts of the Amputee Blade Runners we have been able to gather a significant amount of valuable feedback from their trial runs and bike rides in the new amputee socks.
This project is moving much faster than I think anyone anticipated! We have already turned out three generations of trial socks, with more already on the drawing board. To get our socks on more amputees I am participating in the Getting2Tri Paratriathlon Clinic in Atlanta, GA. Then, I will head to the UCO Endeavor Games the following weekend to promote our new amputee sock to all the competing amputee athletes.
I can honestly say that I have already experienced a better quality of life by wearing my new stump sock throughout the day in the hot summer heat here in Nashville, TN. I can’t wait to change other amputees’ lives through the continued development and distribution of this incredible product.
I attended the Getting2Tri Clinic in Atlanta, GA last weekend. What an incredible group of athletes, coaches and volunteers that hosted an amazing weekend of swimming, biking andrunning clinics!!
Janelle Hansberger, a runner and below knee amputee, tried Swifwick’s new stump sock on during all her workouts throughout the weekend. She reported, after spending the entire day biking, running and coaching others, that she literally had a decrease of 100% of sweat buildup in her liner. Again, a full day of outdoor activities in the Atlanta summer and she had ZERO sweat inside her prosthesis. ZERO.