Charity raising money to help pay for Staten Island teenager's bionic legs

PORT RICHMOND, Staten Island (WABC) -- A grassroots charity is working to raise money to help a 17-year-old amputee.

The boy, orphaned in South Africa, was born with deformed legs that were amputated.

He's now a teenager living on Staten Island, and needs two bionic legs to walk.

The cost: $200,000.

It's slow going for 17-year-old Port Richmond high schooler Christian Calamuci, using his bionic legs that replaced the legs he was born with, that never worked.

"His legs made a perfect circle, and his knees, one was on the side of his leg and one was in the back," said Christian's mother Laura Calamuci.

"I couldn't stand for more than 2 minutes, I couldn't run, my legs, they didn't bend," said Christian.

Laura adopted him from a South African orphanage, where he was left to die.

And if he lived, and stayed there: "Because he couldn't walk, they would have given him a skateboard to lay down on, and a pair of flip flops for his hands to propel down the road ..that was going to be his future," his mom said.

The Calamuci's have held many fundraisers to pay for Christian's vast medical needs.

He gladly had his deformed legs amputated at the knee at a doctor's suggestion.

"He said Buddy, I don't think your legs are cut out for this life, but would you consider having amputation of both of your legs above the knee and getting prosthetic legs," he said.

They are some of the best, made with microprocessors that will adapt to his stride. Insurance covers some, but there's still a huge bill on the table.

So ECHO, the Emergency Children's Help Organization on Staten Island started 10 years ago by philanthropist Sebastian Angelico, is matching up to $30,000, the money the Calamuci's are able to raise through GoFundMe.

"We'll pay medical bills, we'll buy medical equipment, provide food, clothing, even pay travel expense for a child needing to seek treatment outside of the New York metropolitan area," said ECHO Executive Director Pasquale Loporcaro.

"This is a whole new life for him and he deserves it," said Laura.
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