Injuries prevented Patrick Scheibler from running the past several years, so the Libertyville resident has been on the sideline as a volunteer for his hometown's annual Twilight Shuffle 5K fundraiser.
But on Sunday, Scheibler -- now a self-described "one-legged man" -- will be back in the field on crutches after a life-changing decision to have the lower part of his left leg removed.
"I call it a stump. They (medical professionals) call it a residual limb," said Scheibler, a 1986 Libertyville High School grad and sales training manager.
Scheibler had a mid-tibial amputation in June after enduring years of pain in his left leg.
"I just don't want to look at life in a negative way," he said. "Every step since 2009 has been a level of pain. I had enough of that. It's time for me to do what I can to spread some happiness."
While he awaits a prosthetic limb, Scheibler sees the family-oriented Twilight Shuffle as an opportunity to raise awareness for a good cause.
He'll be accepting used crutches, canes and walkers, as well as monetary donations, for the Crutches4Kids organization, which will distribute them to children in need around the world.
The Twilight Shuffle is among the top fundraisers for the MainStreet Libertyville organization. About 750 to 800 participants are expected.
Organizer Bethanie Kraft described Scheibler as an upbeat and spiritual person.
"I was surprised but impressed when he told me about his plan to participate in the Shuffle," she said. "It is a challenging course with quite a few hills, so it will not be an easy task."
Scheibler was determined to run in the event for the first time since 2009 but felt there needed to be more to his participation.
"For whatever reason it dawned on me -- what can we do?"
He found Crutches4Kids, a New York-based charitable organization that estimates 50 million children around the world need crutches but lack access to them. He also learned crutches are a rare and valuable commodity in impoverished areas.
Reasons for the need include debilitating diseases and armed conflicts. Children who can't walk can become victims of abuse of neglect, according to Crutches4Kids.
Crutches can be brought to the registration/packet pickup from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday or Saturday, at Amphibian Multisport, 130 N. Milwaukee Ave., or to the event on Sunday.
Donations can be made online at a fundraising page. As of Tuesday, $2,820 of a $10,000 goal had been donated.
"It originally was about trying to get as many crutches as we could. People kept saying, 'We don't have crutches, but can we give money?'" Scheibler said.
While he'll be using crutches to run Sunday, Scheibler has hopes of running again without their assistance.
"I put my trust in prosthetic technology," he said. "There was always the promise and potential I could run again."