Transforming Lives Worldwide: Katie Leatherwood's Prosthetic Care Mission

Transforming Lives Worldwide: Katie Leatherwood's Prosthetic Care Mission

Katie Leatherwood embodies purpose and compassion, transforming lives through prosthetics and bringing hope to many with her inspiring mission. Here is a story from Katie:

“Growing up in Texas, I was always captivated by science and knew I wanted to make a meaningful contribution to the world. My journey eventually led me to the field of prosthetics and I believe it was a God’s calling.”

Early Inspiration

“During my college years studying kinesiology (the science of human and animal movement), I had the incredible opportunity to join a student team that designed a prosthetic knee joint. Our aim was to create an affordable solution for people in Africa and other similar areas. This experience was invaluable and deeply meaningful to me.”

Deepening Passion

“For the next two years, I immersed myself in the world of prosthetics, exploring its impact on people’s lives. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with this field. I continued my studies in graduate school, specializing in prosthetics and orthotics, and obtained the necessary certification. Combining my studies with a full-time job, I spent over seven years working in the prosthetics industry in the US, diving deep into the technology and specifics of the field.”

This profession became my passion and mission, allowing me to help people in a profound way.

A New Horizon

“The idea of moving to another country to extend my ability to help others had always been in the back of my mind, though I had no specific country in mind. I have been to Latvia several times since childhood as my church in Texas had a collaboration with a church in Latvia. Then, another opportunity to visit Latvia came up. During my visit, I shared my vision with people in the local community and connected with various organizations, universities, and government representatives. The feedback was mixed. I returned to America, continued my work, and kept looking for the right opportunity.”

Latvian Venture

“Eventually, a representative from a Latvian organization reached out to me, and in 2015, I made the move to the capital of Latvia, Riga. It was a fantastic starting point for my work in Latvia, where I collaborated with different organizations, universities, students, and embarked on projects, provided consultations, and organized seminars. A few years into my stay, I launched the “Parafit” project, offering fitness classes for people with disabilities. Despite the project’s success, the COVID-19 restrictions forced us to pause it.

Searching for new opportunities, I stumbled upon an available space in a smaller town. The building owner was open to my proposals, quickly adapting the space to my needs and securing municipal approval. Shortly after, I moved in and started the process of aligning my operations with Latvian legislation. After persistent effort, in May 2022, I was able to open my organization, “Designed to Live.””

Designed to Live

“At “Designed to Live” my team members are Kristina and Davids, both from Ukraine and users of leg prostheses.

We offer support to individuals with mobility impairments, providing technical orthopedic practice, ParaFit classes, and other activities. Our main goal is to provide orthoses and prostheses to people who have lost limbs, using the latest technologies and pouring our hearts into caring for each patient.

My education and practice in the US, along with our approachability, set us apart from other practices in Latvia.”

Team of “Designed to Live” Katie Leatherwood, David Yarmoshik, Kristinka Trifonova
Team of “Designed to Live” Katie Leatherwood, David Yarmoshik, Kristinka Trifonova

Mission: Ukraine

“We place a significant emphasis on helping Ukraine. We are dedicated to making a difference. We’ve launched ‘Mission: Ukraine’ to provide free prosthetic care to those who have lost limbs during the war, ensuring they receive transportation, accommodation, prosthetic fitting, training, and support. Our work for Ukrainians, both civilians and military personnel, is possible thanks to our donors. Despite the high costs of prosthetics, our donor-based approach allows us to bypass long waiting times and provide prompt care.”

A patient from Ukraine, a day before returning home.

Future to offer hope

“Looking ahead, my vision is clear: to provide hope, mobility, and support to those in need, especially individuals impacted by disability. I aim to empower them physically, emotionally, and spiritually through intentional demonstrations of the love of Jesus Christ.”

When sharing on social media, please add #TheEssenceOfPeople.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to support us, please take a look here