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Wednesday
Apr242013

Quadruple Amputee, 13, and Brother Want to Help Boston Bombing Victims

Courtesy Harris Stolzenberg(NEW YORK) -- As Florida brothers Harris and Michael Stolzenberg sat in their living room watching news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, they felt not only empathy and compassion for the victims, but they identified with them in a unique way.

Michael, 13, is a quadruple amputee. He also excels at lacrosse and loves to run around with his two brothers.

When he was 8 years old, he got a bacterial infection and spent seven weeks in the hospital. He spent two weeks in a medically induced coma, and suffered from antiseptic shock and a lack of oxygen to his limbs.

Doctors worked for two months trying to get oxygen to circulate in Michael's limbs but had no luck. His limbs turned purple and black, and doctors were left with no choice but to amputate both of his hands and feet.

He now walks and runs on prosthetic legs.

"Me and my brother were just kind of sitting there and we heard that there were going to be a lot of amputees," Harris, 17, who will attend MIT in the fall, told ABC News. "We thought we could do something to help. We thought if we could raise $10,000, that we could help one person and make a difference in their lives, then it would be worth it."

The brothers decided to start a website called MikeysRun.com. Their goal is to raise $1 million for amputee bombing victims, and Harris hopes to run the Boston Marathon in 2014.

They have teamed up with the nonprofit Scott Rigsby Foundation to ensure that the money goes directly to the amputee victims. The website launched on Tuesday and has already raised more than $12,000.

"Everyone just latched onto the story. We never really imagined it getting this big," Harris said. "Right now it's just taking off and we're definitely going to help a lot more than one person."

Prosthetics range from $10,000 to $100,000 for a pair, depending on the quality, material and size. For growing children, new prosthetics are needed several times a year, so the bills pile up.

Harris also enlisted his future MIT classmates for help. He has been accepted to the school and will start in the fall. After he and Michael hatched their idea, he posted on the MIT Class of 2017 page on Facebook for some technical help.

The first person to respond was Corey Walsh of San Diego, Calif., who has never met the Stolzenbergs.

"I thought it was a great story and definitely something I was interested in," Corey, 18, told ABC News. "I love using my technical skills to help people."

Corey created and manages the website and the public relations campaign. A third future student, Karan Kashyap, is going to lead special projects for Mikey's Run.

Corey was in Boston visiting his future school the day of the bombings and left town just hours before the terrorist attack. He ate lunch at the campus' Stata Center near where MIT Police Officer Sean Collier would be killed just days later.

"I definitely have a personal connection," he said.

Harris is inspired by his brother's positive attitude and strength.

"My brother is such an inspiration to me and he thinks that he could really help others," Harris said. "He just likes being a normal kid."

"He's just awe-inspiring and he's had a wonderful attitude from the beginning, so many friends and he just never looked back," the boys' mom, Laura Stolzenberg, told ABC News.

Michael was at school Wednesday and not available for an interview, but talked to the Sun-Sentinel about empathizing with the Boston victims.

"First, they will be sad," Michael told the paper. "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."

"It's a huge impact on your life, but at the same time, you can still accomplish everything you want to accomplish in life," Harris said. "There's always a silver lining."

The Boston Marathon bombings left three people dead and more than 260 injured. At least 14 people had a limb or limbs amputated.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio