Derick Wilson, 38, definitely qualifies as a pro-active problem-solver. A native of Natchez, Mississippi, Wilson became an amputee as a consequence of an infection that resulted from an accidental gunshot wound to his leg in 1992.
Independent and self-sufficient by nature, Wilson initially relied on his own skills and resources instead of being fitted for a prosthetic leg elsewhere.
"I actually made my own leg at home-in the back yard. I pulled out my power tools and just went to work!"
An experienced woodworker and craftsman, Wilson designed and created a wooden prosthesis that served him for five years before his sister convinced him to visit her in Louisiana and have a prosthesis professionally made.
"Snell's was the first place I visited in 1998, and the people here are so nice and helpful, I told them I was ready to go ahead and have one made by them," Wilson remembers, then chuckles as he continues:
"Clyde Massey-who is now the Vice President at Snell's-joked with me and said that he didn't know whether he wanted to make me a leg or not. He said 'Yours might be better than mine!'"
Impressed with Wilson's craftsmanship and positive attitude, both prior to and after receiving and adjusting to his new prosthesis, Snell's called him in Mississippi four months later and offered him a job in their Louisiana facilities.
He has worked there as a technician for eight years, and is a favorite with customers and co-workers alike.
Wilson admits with good humor that the prosthesis Snell's created for him was superior to his home-made version. "It was about three times lighter than the leg I had made for myself. At that time, it had a normal walking foot with a pin-locking system, and it worked just fine."
Within a year, after Wilson began working at Snell's, he graduated to a sports foot designed for a more active wearer, and he continues to progress.
"Although I still go back to the original prosthesis sometimes, now I have three legs. I wear one now with the Harmony vacuum system that fits snugly to your stump. It actually feels like your leg is still there, it holds onto you so tight. You don't even notice the weight of it."
Both of his prosthetic legs are equipped with the Flex-foot designed for active wearers.
"I can run and get around almost as well as I normally did," claims Wilson proudly. "I still play basketball, although I don't have as much time to get out there as I used to."
That's because he is busy doing other things. He spends family time with his sister, her husband, and their two children; he mows the lawn, plays ball, rides a bicycle, goes fishing, and enjoys doing everything he used to do, says Wilson.
"Like I tell the patients who come to Snell's, 'Don't let it get you down, and don't give up! You are still able to just about anything you want to-if you have the will power and you want to do it.'
"If you say you don't feel like it and you're not going to try, then you're not going to get anywhere. But if you really want to do it, and you're able to try-then you can do just about anything.
"Come to Snell's and see me, and we'll prove it to you!"