When Michael Stolzenberg heard that at least 13 people would lose limbs as a result of the Boston Marathon bombing, he said he had a pretty good idea of the torment each would face.
"First, they will be sad," said Stolzenberg, who spoke Monday with a self-assuredness that belies his 13 years. "They are losing something they will never get back, and it's scary. I was scared.
"But they'll be OK. They just don't know that yet."
A Weston resident and seventh-grader at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Michael is a quadruple amputee.
In the summer of 2008, when he was 8 years old and just coming into his own as a star athlete, both his hands and both his feet were surgically removed in a desperate effort to save his life after a skin infection led to a bacterial infection, septic shock and gangrene.
Now, older brother Harris, 17, and another teen who will be in his freshmen class next fall at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have designed a website aimed at supporting those who have suffered amputations because of the marathon bombing.
The website, at mikeysrun.com, will take pledges as Harris begins to train for his first long-distance race, the 2014 Boston Marathon. The goal: $1 million.
The two explosions that killed three and wounded dozens of others near the Boston Marathon finish line April 15 came in an instant. The blast severed some limbs completely and riddled many with shrapnel that included BB pellets, ball bearings and nails, doctors reported.
The trauma that changed Michael's life eventually led to a moment in the fall of 2008 when the limbs were amputated.
What Michael never lost, say those who know him, is an indomitable spirit and a determination to do everything he once did. He runs, plays lacrosse, and even without wearing the prosthetic arms he finds limiting and cumbersome, is able to type and use his iPhone.
"He has an upbeat perception of life," said Pine Crest lacrosse coach Doug Shanahan. "He does well because he does not think he's handicapped."
He no longer quarterbacks his youth football team, "But I can also throw the football in a pretty tight spiral," he said, demonstrating the two-armed motion he uses to grip and sling the ball.
Harris, a star lacrosse player, calls his younger brother an inspiration. "I was 13 when this happened," he said. "Once he made that decision [about the amputation], he never looked back."
Nor, said the boys' father Keith Stolzenberg, a Miami business attorney, did Michael ever in self-pity ask, "Why me?"
But he may know the answer anyway. "I always had a thing in my head that there was a reason why each of us is on the planet," said Michael, who hopes to visit Boston and amputees there. "Maybe I should be here to help others."
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