By Federico Cornetto
A former Paralympic champion is sailing the oceans donating prosthetic legs to disabled people in developing countries.
Wojtek Czyz, 38, from Kaiserslautern, Germany, embarked on the incredible journey together with wife and Olympic athlete Elena Brambilla, 36, back in 2015.
The kind-hearted couple have since visited Morocco, St Lucia, St Vincent, Dominica, Grenada and the Galapagos Islands, building prosthesis on their boat and giving them out for free to amputees.
Wojtek said: “When my wife and I retired from professional sports we decided to invest our money in a boat, which is our home, and in a project which could help others.
“That’s how Sailing4handicaps was born.
“We bought a catamaran and started travelling the world on it, giving prosthetics limbs out to amputees.
“We have everything in place so that we’re able to create the prosthetics on the boat.”
Wojtek lost his left leg in a tragic accident at the age at 21, when he’d just started out playing as a professional footballer for German team SC Fortuna Koln.
On September 15, 2001, an opponent goalkeeper hit his knee causing multiple fractures, and reportedly slow medical intervention resulted in further complications and Wojtek’s leg having to be amputated.
He heroically reacted to the devastating injury by taking up running and long jump for amputees, winning multiple gold medals and setting records at Paralympic games and world championships.
Wojtek embarked on an even greater adventure after retiring from his sporting career as he hit the seas together with wife Elena.
He said: “Our organisation is non-profit and opens new perspectives to people with disabilities.
“We work on site with leg amputees and for this purpose all the prerequisites have been met on our Imagine catamaran.
“We have 3D-printers and professional softwares to create tailored plastic legs shafts for each patient.”
Every time Imagine reaches a new port, a crew of specialised technicians join Wojtek to build prosthetics on board.
He will then personally teach the amputees how to walk on their new legs.
Wojtek said: “Since 2015 we circumnavigated the world from one place to another and teach people directly on the ground, so that they can continue to maintain and repair the prostheses on their own.
“We are living our vision of supplying leg amputees with free-of-charge prostheses in regions with low development potential.”