Koloa Ha’afuluhao Wolfgramm had bone cancer at the age of four. Though he was able to overcome it, complications arose when he was thirteen and his leg had to be amputated.
Today, Koloa has joined other amputees to help inspire others as they face struggles and challenges. Their method of choice? Basketball.
It all began nine years with Tyler Hyatt, one of Koloa’s friends and a fellow member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“He saw some amputees on YouTube posting videos of them playing stand-up basketball (as opposed to wheelchair basketball) and he got in contact with them,” Koloa said. “They started trying to do events in their areas to find other amputees that were willing to play stand-up basketball. Meanwhile, I was on the US Adaptive Bobsleigh and Skeleton team. One of the other sledders had heard about the team and knew that I was playing basketball in high school so he sent me the info about the team. I got in contact with them, flew out to Texas, tried out, and made the team when I was 16.”
The team and non-profit organziation, Amp1 Basketball, wants to show anyone “that all you need is courage, motivation and heart to follow your dreams.” Members of the team use high-tech prosthetics to overcome lower limb amputations caused traumatic accidents, birth defects and cancer.
For Koloa, the team has created an opportunity to learn more about Jesus Christ and share hope with others. He took a break from the team to serve an LDS mission in the England London South Mission. Originally called to speak English, Koloa had a change of assignment six months in and was assigned to learn Mandarin Chinese. Now that he is back playing basketball, this message has only been strengthened.
“This group has helped me to see that literally everything we do can be used as a tool to not only help others generally, but help others specifically to come unto Christ and develop faith in Him. I also have seen how merciful Jesus Christ really is. We are not very important people in the world’s eyes, we are simply basketball players with missing limbs. But for various reasons, the Creator of the Universe thought it expedient to reach down and in very real ways help us out, lift us when we are down, and open doors for us to make weak things become strong.”
In terms of missionary work, he added, “Using Amp1 as a tool, I have been able to talk to thousands of people and let them know what has been the greatest asset to me in overcoming hard times, having a relationship with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
One specific experience stands out to Koloa. He and the team were in Indiana playing at a university. Afterwards a mother came up to the team with tears in her eyes. She had brought her son, who had recently had both legs and arms amputated, to the game.
“She said that for the first time since his amputation she saw hope in his eyes, hope that he could still do the things that he loved, hope that life wasn’t over, but that now he had the ability to do something that not many people have the chance to do: inspire others.”
You can watch Amp1’s video above. Koloa invites anyone interested in learning more to contact the team.
“As we are a relatively new team, we are trying hard to just get as many people as possible to know about us. If they could share the post/video to their friends than that would be the best. Or if they would like to have us come do an event near them, they can contact myself or any of the other team members.”
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.