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Arms and Legs for Others
Bob Butler lost his legs in a 1965 land mine explosion in Vietnam. He returned home a war hero. Twenty years later, he proved once again that heroism comes from the heart. Butler was working in his garage in a small town in Arizona on a hot summer day when he heard a woman's screams coming from a nearby house. He began rolling his wheelchair toward the house but the dense shrubbery wouldn't allow him access to the back door. So he got out of his chair and started to crawl through the dirt and bushes. I had to get there, he says. It didn't matter how much it hurt. When Butler arrived at the pool there was a three-year-old girl named Stephanie Hanes lying at the bottom. She had been born without arms and had fallen in the water and couldn't swim. Her mother stood over her baby screaming frantically. Butler dove to the bottom of the pool and brought little Stephanie up to the deck. Her face was blue, she had no pulse and was not breathing. Butler immediately went to work performing CPR to revive her while Stephanie's mother telephoned the fire department. She was told the paramedics were already out on a call. Helplessly, she sobbed and hugged Butler's shoulder. As Butler continued with his CPR, he calmly reassured her. Don't worry, he said. I was her arms to get out of the pool. It'll be okay. I am now her lungs. Together we can make it. Seconds later the little girl coughed, regained consciousness and began to cry. As they hugged and rejoiced together the mother asked Butler how he knew it would be okay. The truth is, I didn't know, he told her. But when my legs were blown off in the war, I was all alone in a field. No one was there to help except a little Vietnamese girl. As she struggled to drag me into her village, she whispered in broken English, It okay. You can live. I be your legs. Together we make it.
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