Booneville native Bryce Cobb and David Samson both share a passion for running.
In fact, they were running mates Saturday in a 5K obstacle course in Cabot. But the two had never met before until last Tuesday.
They’re also both below-knee amputees who use prosthetic legs, but that hasn’t stopped either Cobb — a 24-year old who is a sergeant with the Arkansas National Guard — or Samson — a 14-year old eighth-grade student – from being active.
Cobb and Samson met each other for the first time Tuesday at the Hanger Clinic as part of a joint prosthetic follow-up appointment prior to racing Saturday at the 2017 Warrior Dash in Cabot. The meeting was arranged by Micah J. Saterfield, area clinic manager and licensed prosthetist/orthotist with the Hanger Clinic.
“It’s an obstacle course race,” Cobb said. “There’s mud, there’s grass, there’s obstacles. One of the cool things about it for us lower (leg) amputees is that it’s not real running; you’re running on the softer grass and mud and stuff, so it’s not real demanding on your leg.”
Samson said he was also looking forward to Saturday’s race.
“It will be my first run through the dirt and the grass and all that, so I know it will be real fun, and maybe do more of this, have more opportunities after this,” he said.
Cobb, who currently resides in Fort Smith, suffered serious injuries to his left leg more than two years ago in a motorcycle accident on his way home from volunteer guard duty. It ultimately resulted in his leg being amputated, and three months later, he was fitted with his first prosthetic device.
But after the accident, Cobb has become active in a variety of athletic endeavors, from snowboarding and water skiing to weightlifting and CrossFit. He’s also run several long-distance races, in general those that are geared towards veterans, including completing the 26.2-mile Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
“I got involved in it with Operation Enduring Warrior, they’re a non-profit (organization) that helps wounded veterans stay active,” Cobb said. “They get them into obstacle course races, they get them their skydiving license, they get them their scuba license.”
His first race was last year, when he did a 10K obstacle course in Nebraska. Now that he has ran several races with his prosthetic leg, Cobb wants to help other veterans race, too.
“I realized that physically I can do it, and now it was time for me to help show other people they can do it,” Cobb said.
Originally, Cobb was planning to have another veteran run with him this weekend, but didn’t have any takers. So he sent a text message to Saterfield.
“I wanted to do (a race) close to home because I didn’t have anything going on this weekend,” Cobb said. “So I looked, and there was one in Cabot. I didn’t have anybody to go with me through the organization, so I texted Micah and said, ‘Do you have a kid that might be interested in running this race with me?’
“He didn’t take much time at all to say, ‘Yeah, I’ve got this kid named David; he runs track and stuff.’”
Like Cobb, Samson uses a prosthetic device on his left leg. But Samson has been without his left leg since birth, and got his first prosthetic around the age of 3, which he used for walking purposes.
He wanted to be more active, so when he was 9, Samson got a new prosthetic leg which allows him to play sports. A student at Butterfield Trail Middle School in Van Buren, Samson runs track and cross country, and also plays soccer.
“I know since I used to not be able to run, there is still people out there that can’t run, and I know since I’m able to run that I should take advantage of it and run track and cross country,” Samson said.
“During track, I ran maybe half a mile to a mile every morning doing sprints. Then my track coach told me to go to cross country because it’s a lot more running. … So I’m doing cross country, running about four miles every morning and just getting used to that, and it just made everything better.”
And does Samson get any special treatment from his coaches and teammates due to his condition?
“No, they don’t treat me any differently, but they do support me,” he said. “We support each other and when we cross the finish line, we always make sure to say ‘Good job’ or ‘You did good,’ stuff like that.”
Saterfield, who himself was a veteran who served in the Air Force, said he admires both Cobb and Samson along with their ability to overcome their injuries.
“I am so confident in both of them, starting with Bryce,” Saterfield said. “I knew from day one that you could tell he was in the zone, he’s Army strong and that this was not going to keep him down.
“In regards to David, I’ve seen him grow to be a young man. I know his heart, and I know his passion and both have extremely bright futures.”