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Rudy Garcia-Tolson assembled his prosthetic limbs for a 5K run through Dolphin Mall on Sunday. The Paralympic gold medalist told NBC 6 South Florida that "the real disability is having a negative attitude."
Rudy Garcia-Tolson assembled his prosthetic limbs for a 5K run through Dolphin Mall on Sunday.
The Paralympic gold medalist participated in the first ever Nike Factory Store 5K hosted by the City of Sweetwater and Dolphin Mall.
"I love to come out and show the world, show the community, and show the kids that having no legs is just a challenge, and the real disability is having a negative attitude," he said.
The 24-year-old double amputee was among 1,000 participants in the Halloween-themed race that took runners both around and through the Sweetwater mall.
"A sport makes me feel whole, and I don't think about my legs, I don't think about what people think about my legs,” he told NBC 6 South Florida. “I love having no legs, that's who I am."
Three-time medalist Garcia-Tolson was born with his legs webbed at the knee due to a rare birth defect, called Pterygium syndrome.
"I went through 15 operations to try to fix my legs, and at the age of 5, the doctors told me and my parents ‘We could cut your legs off, or you'll probably spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair,’” he said. “And at that age, I told the doctors to cut my legs off because I want to be free."
His determination helped him compete in three Paralympic games, inspiring athletes around him.
“He's taught me to never give up," said participant Gaby Chacin.
Garcia-Tolson was also the first double above-knee amputee to compete in an Ironman Triathlon.
"He's just an amazing individual,” said Raul Rodriguez of the Li’l Abner Foundation, which is benefiting from the race. “He just motivates children to do better."