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Help Courtney Get Her #DreamLeg

$32,405 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 441 people in 5 months
Created December 15, 2017
Hello. My name is Courtney Gilmour. I am a comedian living in Toronto and I was also born missing both hands and my right leg above the knee. One time I got a nose ring because I thought I needed something to help me 'stand out'.

This GoFundMe is a collaborative project between some very close and good-hearted friends and family, and I said I would write the description here since I have all the nuts n' bolts info and would like to tell my story.

So, look, I don't really do fundraisers like this and didn't think I would for this topic  so I want to do my best to be the two things I strive to be in my daily life about everything else: CLEAR AND NOT BORING.

I've been wearing prosthetic legs since I was a tiny infant cherub and they have served me well enough for basic function and mobility.  I have also used them to serve candy on Halloween, shelter kittens,  pose in front of Fred Astaire's Walk of Fame, and trip boyfriends in the middle of the night. I make the best of them.

(This is NOT the DreamLeg, it's my old one!)

A few months ago my artificial leg - which was brand shiny new and one out of a series of many failed attempts at securing a proper fitting prosthesis over the past 5 years - completely snapped in half on the stairs of Ossington subway station in Toronto. I was on my way to perform at a show and it buckled right underneath me with zero warning. I fell forward and caught myself before I could tumble down the stairs. I'm lucky I wasn't hurt and I'm lucky that it didn't happen moments earlier while exiting the train, or crossing an intersection, or tightrope walking across Niagara Falls as I like to do on Sunday afternoons, etc.

My agent who was across the street at the comedy club came over and carried me like Superman from the subway to the stage while my weird dangly dead fish leg flopped around in front of passersby 

"LOOK AT MY LEG!", I shrieked at people's bewildered faces. "LOOK AT ITTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!"

Then I performed my set sitting on a stool and this was the one good thing that came from it because I felt like Marc Maron and used my stage time to pompously chain smoke and yell a lot about what just happened.

(The smoking part is not true but, like, the ESSENCE of that MOOD was there.) 

A very special kindred spirit in my life came to pick me up, plop me on his bike, stuff my busted gam into a bag with the foot sticking out, and steer me home.



It took a few blocks for us to realize we could have just called an Uber. But it was the sentiment and a fun way to ride through the city feeling like E.T.

This brings me to #DreamLeg. For years I have been researching state of the art prosthetic limbs and keeping up with awesome technology. As it stands, (hahahahahasdfghjk;uy54reliuh)  the average artificial leg in Canada without any bells and whistles costs between $8-$20k excluding repairs, adjustments, transportation costs to/from the facility, physiotherapy, etc. A percentage of this cost is covered by ADP (Assistive Devices Program, in Ontario) and in some cases The War Amps organization or insurance companies, all depending on circumstances surrounding the cause of amputation. Otherwise, amputees are on their own.


(This is a very nice and well meaning Leg Doctor crossing his fingers in hopes that this one will work without issues; it didn't! Whoops!)

My Dream Leg is the $100,000 Genium X3 leg which is essentially the iPhone 8 or Maserati of legs.



It's military grade, waterproof, has a microprocessor knee, senses your motion, has activity modes like running and walking, has a stumble recovery feature to LITERALLY CATCH YOU if you start to fall on the stairs of Ossington station. It's the world's most advanced leg and it would change my life.

After feeling completely dejected with the Leg Process - the endless appointments, the mediocre technology, the  breakdowns and repairs, back pain, the helpless feeling of being in a limited body with a limitless mind, I decided I deserve to have this Robot Leg and a better quality of life. My plan was to tell my story and use my comedy career to raise money through a series of shows and projects. 

Once my family got wind of this, they took me out to dinner and presented me with a huge, exceptionally kind, amazingly generous offer to help me fund #DreamLeg no matter what it takes.




This was a beautiful, tearful moment I won't forget and the start of #DreamLeg fund. Over the next few weeks, however, a barrage of messages came rolling in from friends and family asking how they could help too. Comedians started banding together to start fundraiser shows to help my family.

I began to realize that as amazing as it is that my family wants to help me pay for this leg, I can't in good conscience just snatch this up and quietly live my new Robot Dream Babe life.

It is a LOT of money and I don't want to turn away people who really want to contribute to help me and my family. I also don't want to turn away an opportunity to discuss and make movement on a huge issue: making this type of technology for amputees more accessible and affordable long-term.

I know I equated #DreamLeg to a phone or a car but realistically it's not just a luxury item toy, and that's how the government views it right now, which is the problem. There is a REASON why it's going to make my life better and in another post I will break down the math in simpler terms of why it makes more sense for our government to develop a plan for better prosthetics and how it will actually cut down the costs long term.

So, this is where we are.  There is a series of comedy shows in the works, meetings with MPs, and then there is this little page where if you feel so inspired, you can make #DreamLeg happen not only for me but hopefully, going forward, for a lot of other people too. Please check back for jokes and updates.

Thank you x1000 in advance to everyone who is giving, and to the Leg Doctors (professional term) who have been doing the best they can for me over the years. 

"ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN, ONE GIANT LEAP FOR ROBOTS."

I DON'T KNOW, WHATEVER. ALSO I WANNA BE ON 'DANCING WITH THE STARS'.

BYE.
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IT'S ME, COURTNEY. 'Sup?

Snowballs and whirlwinds and monsoons of activity have occupied my life and now, especially with a surge of beautiful donations, it feels like time for a long overdue update on what's going on over here.

I've never been so grateful to be overwhelmed by emails. I still have a bunch of thank-yous to get to and they are coming.

Here are some categories, 'cause I LOVE a good category.

MEDIA STUFF/NEWS::

- The Toronto Star kindly printed a feature on me this weekend and it is a good piece. Mega thanks to them.

It is here.
https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/2018/05/06/comedy-champ-courtney-gilmour-makes-use-of-whats-missing.html

It's interesting/amusing how confused people get with terminology. The writer asked me several times how to correctly phrase my condition, I said you can say "multiple limb amputee". What ended up in print, which has since been amended (AS WELL AS A BOTCHED JOKE; I'm learning more and more that jokes do not translate well in media especially when recalled from someone's memory, oof), was "a multiple limb amputee, since shortly after she was born". I sent a note that I've been this way since birth and that turned into a revised editor's note at the bottom stating that a previous version had MISTAKENLY referred to me as an "amputee".

I KNOW THIS IS NOT FUNNY TO YOU BUT IT IS TO ME. I guess it is not technically correct to refer to myself as an "amputee" if nothing was amputated and I was born this way - but it's just a blanket term for lack of any other relevant term and it has never tripped me up nearly as much as it trips up able-bodied. If you have a suggestion for a replacement word, comment below!

- I taped a fun episode of CBC's The Debaters a few weeks ago and got to plug #DreamLeg on it, that should be out soon.

- Twitter traction! Kind souls who have been donating and sharing the link with big followings have made a huuuge impact: Brent Butt, Scott Thompson, Sarah Silverman, Maria Bamford, Josh Gondelman, Jon Cryer, Kathleen Hanna, RJ Mitte, Mara Wilson, all of the Toronto stand up community WOWOWOW. Every time there's a spike in attention it goes a long way. VERY COOL.

- My pal John Mostyn is participating in a highly intense triathlon to raise money for DL and it's the most amazing thing ever. He just finished the Toronto Marathon in preparation and I think he's the best. JOHN MOSTYN MORE LIKE JOHN LEGEND.


DREAMLEG:

- We are at $32K!

- I completed my second home trial of the leg. It went really well, albeit very short as I have been on the road constantly and I did not wish to travel with a #DreamLeg loaner, just in case.

- Everywhere I go people ask me two questions. 1.) Are you wearing DreamLeg right now? 2.) What is so amazing about it?

I will likely have it in a few months and I will have a payment plan in motion so that I can use it before we reach the $100K goal. I love how eager people are to see it!

Here is the thing, though, and I have been debating how to approach this as an update while still maintaining a positive, solution-oriented mindset:

Getting fitted for this prosthetic leg is a very, very, very complicated process. There are so many details and components and setbacks and for the most part I really cannot properly articulate any of them to non-amputees. This is frustrating sometimes.

Here is one example. The fact that I am both an arm and leg amputee means that my experience with DreamLeg is different than if I were just a leg amputee. How? Well! When I put my shoes on every day, what I do is crouch down and with my current raggedy-ass dinosaur leg I have enough knee flexion to give me a hard squat, all the way down baybayyy. Enough to rest my bum on my heels and use my long nub-arm to dexterously pull my shoe onto the foot.

DreamLeg does not have this knee flexion. It only goes halfway, so as it currently stands it is nearly impossible to EASILY put a shoe on, which maybe seems minor but isn't. Think about how long it takes you to put your shoes on. Maybe 1-2 seconds and most people just slip them on, or use a finger to quickly tug. Maybe some laces for an extra few seconds. But you do it multiple times a day without thinking about it as a chore.

So then you ask, well why doesn't this incredible state of the art military grade DREAM LEG have such a basic feature?

Well, because for many other functionality reasons it makes more sense that it doesn't and the only reason why it affects me negatively is because of my arms. A biomedical engineer planning the design of this type of prosthetic is probably not thinking about how that one minor aspect is going to work for an arm amputee, right?

So that is just one of many examples.

But here is the good of it; there are ways around everything. I am working with people who stop at nothing to explore loopholes and alternative resources and solutions to help me get the leg I want and need.

It's just going to take some time, trial, and error.

The reality is that as dreamy as DreamLeg is, it's still not perfect. But I'm encouraged by this rather than bummed out because this campaign is bringing issues to the forefront that are only going to spark improvement. I'm talking to prosthetic companies, to bioengineers, to government leaders, to other amputees - and all of it is to foster dialogue that will make things BETTER.

For me, for the vision of #DreamLeg Foundation that will provide funding to get legs for others, and for the design process of future DreamLeg innovations.

I ran into a neighbour in my elevator last week and he told me that he shared the campaign on his social media and it inspired a friend of his to enroll in school for prosthetic technology.

All roads lead to where you're going, see?

That's it for me today. Thank you all so much for your kindness and supporting me on this very big, fun, exciting journey towards mastering the choreography to Beyonce's 7/11 video.

xo,
Courtney

Twitter: @CourtGilmour
Instagram: @CourtneyJGilmour

Upcoming shows:

May 7th: Dawn Patrol @ Comedy Bar, 8:00 pm
May 8th: I'll Be Seeing You bar @ 8:30 pm
May 10th: James Adomian show @ Comedy Bar, 8:00 pm. https://comedybar.ca/show.php?Event_ID=9217
May 11th: The Ossington + Yuk Yuk's
May 12th: Earl of Whitchurch, Stoufville, ON 8:30 pm
May 15th: Last Call Comedy @ Comedy Bar, Toronto, 9:30 pm
May 23: Fox & Fiddle, Toronto, 8:30 pm
May 24: SiriusXM Top Comic @ Yuk Yuk's, 8:00 pm
May 26: Opening for Sam Jay @ Comedy Bar 8 pm, Comedy Uncovered @ Comedy Bar 9 pm
May 28: SoHo House, Toronto, 8:00 pm
May 30: Comedy Night @ ReelAbilities Film Festival, Innis Town Hall, 9:00 pm
June 7: Yuk Yuk's @ Saint John, NB, 8:00 pm
June 8: Yuk Yuk's @ Saint John, NB, 8:00 pm
June 9: Yuk Yuk's @ Saint John, NB, 8:00 pm
June 12: Dolan's Pub, Fredericton, NB 8:30 pm
June 15th: Yuk Yuks @ Hamilton, ON 8:00 pm
June 16th: Yuk Yuks @ Hamilton, ON 8:00 pm





Fan art
Fiddlin' around at the Leg Hospital
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Hi! Quick update just to say that I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of donations and messages rolling in over the past few days, not to mention since THE DAWN OF TIME/overall. If you haven't received a personal/individual message from me thanking you for your donation, it is coming! I am out of town this weekend without a lot of spare time but every email I get notifying me of more support fires me up like a little festive sprite.

If you missed it, I made an appearance on The Beaverton for a small segment on #DreamLeg.

I don't know if this will link properly, but here it is: https://www.facebook.com/TheBeaverton/videos/1822338304466550/?hc_ref=ARQ3k9MWfPaR6meFHUFf9GGvIu7U1p0jJYsDRRbVvodClQANYHMFbKjaiILLF5z5Eiw


I appreciate all of the media outlets who have reached out to me. This issue is tremendously layered and nuanced and there are so many key details that unfortunately I have not had time to fully address in the appearances I've made. However, every request for publicity gives me another opportunity to introduce more information.

Two (of MANY) important realizations this week:

- Across the board, people are blown away by the exorbitant cost of prosthetics and the fact that they are not covered under healthcare. The provinces that do have funding programs cover a miniscule portion that barely makes a dent. I have read an extensive list of case examples from nearly all provinces in Canada where amputees have either gone without prosthetics at all due to the cost or have had to pay out of pocket and are in debt because of insufficient funding.

- I'm doing a lot of intensive reading on anatomy and the physiological effects of amputation and the body's response to different kinds of prosthetics. This has actually been mind blowing for me because I'm just now (!!!!) realizing how insanely limited I've been my whole life because of my leg. I've been lucky and privileged at the same time, but I've blamed a lot of inactivity and anxiety surrounding my leg on myself rather than a combination of a healthcare system and technology that have failed me. HUGE. Amputees are constantly thinking and worrying about almost every step they take. Imagine every day of your life thinking about where your leg is in space while you're walking, not being able to FEEL where it is in space, worrying about falling, not knowing if the step you took was enough to support your body without falling until you fall, sitting out of activities due to uneven terrain or inclement weather that will mess up the components, pulling your weight up stairs, etc. All of that while trying to socialize or go to work. It's a lot of mental and physical labour.

There is lots of research and stats and numbers I wanted to break down about it but I'm too tired right now. I would be the worst scientist.

"LOOK EVERYONE I'VE DONE THE FIELD WORK AND I HAVE SOLID EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE THAT IS GUARANTEED TO BLOW YOU AWAY BUT IT'S AFTER MIDNIGHT AND I JUST ATE POUTINE, GONNA CATCH SOME Z'S. BUT TRUST ME IT'S GOOD."

This is all to say that I feel even more empowered and motivated to get this issue out into the public and hopefully in front of some decision makers.

Thank you once again for everything always and helping me get closer to living my #DreamLeg.

More soon!

xo
Courtney
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HELLO. It's been a few weeks since my last #DreamLeg update and so much has happened. For one thing, every time I enter a room people say "ARE YOU WEARING IT? IS THAT IT? DOES IT HAVE WIFI, WHAT'S THE PASSWORD?"

Trust me that when I have #DL for good you will know. I will announce my arrival with pageantry and panache at every turn until you all beg for donation refunds just to shut me up.

So I just came back from returning the home trial of #DL and have lots of brand new cool things I'd like to tell you.

#DL PROGRESS:

I just found out that with #DL I will be able to ride a bicycle and I'm exhilarated. I have never ridden a bicycle before as I'm sure you've gathered based on my calling it a 'BICYCLE'. One of few memories I have of my grandfather is him buying me an ET-themed bike I wanted for my birthday one year, not to be cruel but fully confident that I would be able to ride it. He took me on all kinds of adventures that tested my limits and I think we both figured riding a bike would be a no-brainer for me and we'd work out the logistics later.

Well, it just didn't happen. It turns out trying to master bike riding with no hands, only part of a right leg, and a constantly varying collection of prosthetic limbs, was harder than anticipated. Not impossible, though. I know other amputees who came up with all kinds of scrappy makeshift assistive devices to make it work. I really think that if my grandpa hadn't passed soon after, he would have been the one to push me more and come up with a plethora of bike assembling schemes until something stuck.

BUT NOW HERE WE ARE. This #DreamLeg is 100% fit and has MODES for two (of many) activities I want to get into: biking and snowboarding. I grew up skiing every winter and putting my rickety old legs through freezing temperatures, velocities, and positions they weren't used to was a challenging task and one I usually paid a physical toll for.

So, this is all very exciting. (SHOULD I GET AN ET BIKE?)

HOME TRIAL & NEXT STEPS:

The two week trial was great. I took it home with me for the holidays and got to try out all the cool features, enjoy the smoothness of my new walking abilities.

I'm still working on climbing/descending stairs foot over foot; it's scary! I have never been able to trust that side of my body to work independently before. My goal once I've mastered it is to film myself climbing the staircase at Ossington station where I fell and the leg that started this whole thing broke.

I'm going to be ordering the full #DreamLeg by the end of the month and will return for more fitting adjustments/fine tuning. I should have the real deal by February and that's when the payment plan begins!

PRESS/PUBLICITY:

This campaign has really taken off and gained so much traction in such a short amount of time. I'm blown away by the generosity of friends and strangers. Thank you to Global News, CBC, CTV news, ET Canada and others who are taking interest and sharing my story.

#DL COMEDY SHOWS:

On January 28th I will be hosting Comedy Bar's flagship sketch comedy show Sunday Night Live with The Sketchersons at 9:30 pm. The cast has generously offered the house sales as a donation to #DreamLeg, which is amazing. It's gonna be REALLY fun.

Tickets: https://comedybar.ca/show.php?Event_ID=9083

I'm hoping to plan a hometown show in Kitchener-Waterloo sometime in late February or March, details TBA.

We raised a lot of money at the #OntheDL campaign launch show at The Rivoli, thank you to everyone who came out!

MEGA THX:

There is still so much more to update on including some number breakdowns re: pricing, info on who I'm talking to to get the dialogue started on funding in Canada, and some very cool secret psst psst projects coming up.

For now I'll end it here. Thank you SO much for all of your donations, support, and sharing. We're making big waves here (THAT I WILL BE SURFING SOON ON MY NEW LEG) and I appreciate each and every shout out and contribution. I'm so happy to know that there are good, kind people out there who want to help and aren't concerned that I might become a robot and take over the planet.

HAPPY NEW YEAR & FOLLOW YOUR DREAM(LEGS).

xo,
Courtney

Metro Morning CBC
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- Tomorrow I go in at 7:00 am to officially see #DreamLeg up close and personal and then take it home for a home trial. This is the official START of actually HAVING this leg and becoming your new robot overlord. I'm so excited.

- We're nearly at $6K raised in 4 days and I'm overwhelmed with the generosity in donations, shares, tweets, messages, offers to host fundraiser shows, etc. THANK YOU. Thank you for everything and for looking at my dumb leg on your timeline so much and if I haven't thanked you personally, it's coming.

- THERE WILL BE A #DREAMLEG COMEDY TOUR IN THE NEW YEAR.

- I took my leg off in the movie theatre during Dunkirk, out of respect for the war.

See ya.
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$32,405 of $100,000 goal

Raised by 441 people in 5 months
Created December 15, 2017
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