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Tory D'Amour - Salem, New Hampshire
Update! November 2008.

Hi Steve! This is Tory D'Amour from Salem, NH. I am sooooo happy to see how your site has grown over the years! How is your daughter doing now? She must have just entered the tough years of teens.

I thought I would give you an update on how everything has been going for me. As you might remember, I got a prosthetic hand a few years ago. I am now getting a new one. It is amazing how far technology has come! I have too much wrist bone in my right "hand" to put a ton of fun technology in it, but this hand will still be motorized and read signals from my muscle movements.

I graduated from Suffolk University in Boston, MA this past May with honors. I majored in English Literature and Creative Writing, and I minored in the history of Classics. Since then, I've received a permanent position at a great insurance company. I love to read, write, and watch movies, and I spend much of my free time doing just that.

I just moved into an apartment with my boyfriend, Jay. We have a two year old black cat named Chez, and a new brown tabby kitten named Lola who is almost three months old. We treat them like our children! It is a big challenge for me living on my own now, with all of the cooking, cleaning and hauling the two "kids" around like I do. I see now how much a prosthetic hand can help me, although I still do things fine on my own. Unfortunately, I haven't played softball or music since entering college, but I hope to start playing music again once I have my own house.

Well, that's about where my life is right now, Steve. Thank you for all of the work you've done for others like me. Please note the email change, as I rely heavily on email now and do not use AOL instant messenger: tory.damour@gmail.com My phone number is 603.682.2649 if you ever need it. I'd love to keep receiving email from you and any readers out there, so please spread the word!

Have a great holiday!!

Most sincerely,
Tory


September 2003

I am now 17 years old (my birthday is in December) and I am a senior at Salem High School in Salem, New Hampshire. This summer I played on my tournament softball team, the U-18 Hampstead Heat. We had a pretty good season. I also got all of my wisdom teeth out and experienced Novocain for the first time. Man, was that an experience I won't forget anytime soon!

Soon after that, my family took a vacation to Baltimore, Maryland. I visited a college there and we saw two Red Sox -vs- Orioles baseball games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It was a beautiful ballpark, but sadly the Red Sox lost both of the games we attended. Baltimore reminded me a bit of Boston. A very exhausting and time-consuming band camp took place at my school the last couple weeks of summer.
This year, the Salem High School marching band plans to perform in Montreal, Canada at the Allouettes professional football game. I am very excited! In our half-time show, I have a solo on mellophone (which is like a French horn for marching band). I am very nervous about it considering I do not like being in the spotlight.

Now, I am getting my applications and teacher recommendations ready for college. This is very stressful! I am unsure what I want to study in college, but I am very sure that I want to be successful at what I do study and get the highest degree offered in my major (whatever that may be).

I still tend to hide the fact that I don't have a right hand. I have many supportive friends who could care less that I was born this way, but it is still hard for me not to be self-conscious. A bad result of hiding it it is that since I hide it so well and I make friends very easily, people be-friend me not knowing that I am missing a right hand. This can prove a very awkward and stressful situation when I have to tell them about my defect and wait for their reactions. So far it has not made any difference at all, but most of the people are surprised that they did not take notice in the first place.

I still do not use a prosthetic of any sort; not ever. People ask me if it is tough coping without a right hand. My reply: it is a bit awkward having to shake hands when I greet people with my left hand, but otherwise I do not know anything different. I would imagine it is both physically and mentally tougher coping without a right hand, but since I was born and raised without one it is normal for me. I am who I am, and I accept it. Everyone else should too.

I'd enjoy reading an email from you or talking over AOL Instant Messenger at Sploofy514. Thank you for your time and your interest!

No worries,
Tory D'Amour

Two Remarkable Performers - One Drumline
Winter Guard International

The Salem High School Percussion Ensemble from Salem, NH doesn't put limitations on membership. The 2004 ensemble has two remarkable members that are overcoming their disabilities in order to participate. Here are their stories, as told by them.

Tory D'Amour

My name is Victoria D'Amour (but everyone calls me Tory) and I am a senior at Salem High School in Salem, New Hampshire. I was born with ABS (Amniotic Band Syndrome: Amniotic Band Syndrome is a set of congenital birth defects believed to be caused by entrapment of fetal parts -- usually a limb or digits -- in fibrous amniotic bands while in utero. In other words: Before the baby is born, the body parts that show signs of ABS -- arm, fingers, toes, etc., -- were caught up and entangled in string-like bands of the placenta. This caused abnormalities that are present at birth). As a result I lost my right hand.

When I was a toddler, I used a prosthetic hand,but it was just for show to look like a real hand. This was strapped around my left shoulder. The use of this fake hand only lasted a short time because I would constantly pull it off. Around age 6, I had some sort of prosthesis created for me at the prosthesis department of the Boston Children's Hospital to help me with a gymnastics class. After some time I grew out of it and I decided that I did not want to bother continuing with that prosthesis because it was not strictly needed for me to perform.

Since then, I have been able to do most everything without the use of any prosthetic aids. This has helped me to develop a very positive attitude and an open mind. I am a person full of determination for whatever I want to accomplish. I try my best to do everything well; whether it be academics, sports,or even caring for people. I try not to get frustrated, which I admit can happen from time to time, but I do not complain more than the next person and try to be seen as of equal standing next to "normal" people. For the active part I have played softball and soccer, done horseback riding, gymnastics, swimming, and marching band some many other activities.

In all of these activities I have found ways for me to be involved like everyone else; whether it be by using the left side of my body to compensate in both swimming and horseback riding or developing my own methods for performing in softball and marching band. I put in my full effort for all of these activities and everything else I do. I have realized that you cannot be half-hearted about completing something, but instead must put forth all heart into that one thing in order to complete it.

I have become very involved in my music department at Salem High School during my 4 years. I play french horn in the band and pit orchestra for "The Sound of Music", and mellophone for marching band. Marching band has proven to be as difficult, if not more, than any sport ever was for me. This year I am giving up my spot on the varsity softball team -- I am a pitcher -- to pursue my interest in the Winter Percussion ensemble. I have decided to take a chance with the winter percussion ensemble because the staff members have given me the opportunity to be a part of the ensemble. That is a chance I could not pass up.

All of the staff members have been very supportive of me, and the members of the group (my peers) have been just as supportive. I have made many friends among the group and feel very comfortable with them. All of the group members put forth their best efforts to make our show great, and I hold great respect for each member. In the cymbal line, I feel like I can relate to all of the girls (we are a 7-girl cymbal line). This is each girl's first time being involved with winter percussion -- it is a bit of a transition coming into a group where top effort, discipline, and professional attitude is demanded at all times. Nearly all of the girls are learning to play a percussion instrument for the first time (save one person). Each girl is learning how to dance for the show, in addition to the drill. We help each other out constantly while trying to learn music, dance, and drill.

If I was not doing winter percussion, I am pretty sure I would have never thought about getting a hand. Mr. Vitagliano introduced me to Dr. Cornell and I think it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. They are both so positive that something good will come out of the situation that their optimism is contagious. This is a big deal for me, considering the prosthesis is something I can use on an everyday basis -- it should be helpful when I am on my own in college next year. This will be a whole new experience for me since I have never had a hand before. It will be strange to have no hand one day,and then the next day be waving to someone with the prosthetic hand. Even then, it should be pretty exciting to do things and perform tasks (such as holding a cup in my right hand while opening a door with the left) that I have never been able to do before. That will feel amazing.

The hand itself will feel a bit heavy at first.There is a glove that I roll on to about half way up my forearm. Electrodes will be places above the glove against my skin (along with a battery pack) to read my muscle movements that will determine whether I open or close my hand. When the hand is closed, I can exert a grip force of 25-30 lbs. There is a fake skin covering that is placed over the hand and glove so it looks like my real skin. I will have to work up a bit of arm strength in my right arm and fix my mind so I can think about what muscles I need to use to open and close the hand. A time will come when I will not even need to think about what muscles to use and I will just operate as if I had always had a right hand. Even when I am getting sized for the hand, I am realizing all of the things I have learned to do without a hand. Getting changed in the morning, putting on deodorant, cutting food at the dinner table, buttoning and zippering things... I notice I have developed my own method for all of these. Changing my habits will be the biggest challenge of all.

I am very proud to be a part of the Salem Blue Devil winter percussion ensemble and be associated with such wonderful staff members and friends.


By Chris Rattey
Eagle-Tribune
Sunday, August 2, 1998

SALEM, N.H. -- When little Tory D'Amour started playing softball at the age of six, she was a little more nervous than the other first-time softball players.

But the young girl wasn't anxious about swinging the bat or throwing the ball. She knew how to do that. Rather, Tory was more concerned with what people thought.


Tory D'Amour fires a pitch. She will be pitching for Salem in the Eastern Sectionals tourney in Delaware. She was 4-0 in state tourney play.
Due to a birth defect, Tory was born without a right hand. Six years later, however, what the people have thought in the past, or think now, does not even faze the young girl. Her attitude and performance speak for themselves.

Tory is the ace pitcher for the 11-12-year-old Salem Little League All-Stars, who recently captured the state championship in a two-game sweep over Plymouth, and are on their way to Delaware for the Eastern Sectionals.

Tory has accumulated a 4-0 record on the mound through the state tournament, most recently firing a two-hitter in the first win over Plymouth.

''I was kind of nervous what other people would think,'' said Tory about the first time she started softball at the tee-ball level. ''But I just got real used to it. I play a lot, so I got used to it.

''I think people might be a little amazed at what I can do. They haven't seen a lot of people who can do this. But I really don't care what they think.

''I don't usually think about it. This is how I am and I make the best of it.''

Tory is heading into the seventh grade at Woodbury School in Salem, and lives with her mother Kathy, father Gary and little sister Justine. Mom and dad have been watching her all along, and Gary will tell you the birth defect is far from a disadvantage.

''She was born without the right hand, so she never knew what it was like to have one,'' said Gary. ''She never let it bother her. Because I've watched her for so long, it doesn't seem like a big deal. It is exciting to watch her play.''

Pitching with just one hand takes not only great skill, but quick reflexes. Tory keeps the glove under her left arm, pitches the ball, then somehow inserts her hand back into the glove to field the ball.

With a number of line drives and ground balls flying back to the mound, Tory sometimes uses other parts of her body to knock the ball down.

But that doesn't seem to bother the hurler, who is Salem's version of Jim Abbott, the major league pitcher from a few years back who only had one hand.

''Sometimes I know I won't have enough time, so I just try for it,'' said Tory, who also hits from the left side and went 3-for-3 in the first win of the tourney. ''Sometimes with line drives I don't have time. I get bruises, but I stop it at least. I have a big bruise on my leg right now.

''I think it makes me tougher. I think it makes my teammates play harder too.''

Gary has seen Tory take one for the team on many occasions.

''Sometimes she doesn't have time and she just uses her bare hand,'' added the father. ''In the District Series, she had the bases loaded and a girl hit a shot up the middle. Tory snagged it on one hop and threw it home for the force out.''

Aside from the two-hitter thrown against Plymouth, Tory's three other wins came by a five-hitter, a four-hit shutout and a seven-hit win over Concord.

Salem All-Star coach Andy Reusch knows this is one little girl you don't come in contact with all too often.

''She is a very quiet and shy little girl who is very comfortable in a softball uniform,'' said Reusch, who also coaches Lawrence High's varsity team. ''She has just worked so very hard to be successful at her craft at such a young age.''

Not only has Tory performed great feats on the field at such a young age, the seventh-grader has become a very impressionable individual. She is aware that her actions can help other youngsters who face various forms of adversity.

''I think it is a good example for the younger girls and boys because they can look up to me,'' added Tory, who over the past year has developed the windmill pitch. ''They think, 'If she can do that, I can do this.'''

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