Kenny Mayne has spent his life in sports. A quarterback at UNLV and a renowned broadcaster at ESPN, he’s played with, interviewed, and become friends with an endless number of world class athletes. But for most of the last 27 years, Mayne himself has hardly been able to run. A badly dislocated ankle in a 1980 football game led to 10 surgeries and left him with decades of pain. He was resigned to that pain, and the limitations that came with it. That is, until 2017, when Mayne was introduced to the “magic device” and he almost instantaneously found himself both walking and running pain-free for the first time in twenty years.
As it turns out, the “magic device” is Mayne’s moniker, not the official name. And while it might seem like magic, it’s the result of rigorous research and testing. In 2009, the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis (IDEO*) was built with the goal of reducing pain and restoring mobility to active-duty and retired service members with limb salvage conditions as an attempt to avoid amputation. The ExoSym device (the one Mayne has) is an evolution of the IDEO, and has helped patients all over the world with limb salvage conditions. It has shown to increase dynamics and energy return, giving patients the ability to perform basic activities like running and jumping without pain. That’s exactly what Mayne experienced.
When good fortune comes Kenny Mayne’s way, he finds ways to pass it along. He has 335,000 followers on Twitter, where he opines on everything from sports to politics to Stevie Wonder. Most impressively, he’s used that platform to raise money for everything from hurricane relief in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico, to the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. However, it’s his support of veterans that runs the deepest and is most personal for Kenny.
Mayne’s nephew, Pfc. Kyle Farr, came back from a 2006 Iraq War deployment with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury. In 2009, at age 27, he passed away. Since that time, Mayne has been a staunch supporter of veterans’ causes. It was natural that the relief he felt with the “magic device” would quickly transition into action. On the first day he tried the ExoSym, he called his wife, Gretchen, and they immediately committed to helping veterans find the kind of life-changing relief that Kenny had just experienced. And that’s when RunFreely was born. So why a non-profit?
The ExoSym represents hope for some veterans- a device that could vastly improve quality of life, and perhaps even avoid inevitable amputation. Unfortunately, with that hope may come the cold reality of not being able to afford the expenses that come along with the device.
The average cost of the ExoSym, and the necessary care training program, can be more than $10,000. Currently, it’s only one in every 14 patients that will have this expense covered by their insurance provider. Run Freely raises money to financially support veterans who qualify for this extensive care program but cannot afford to cover its costs.
On Saturday August 11th, RunFreely will host their first large fundraiser and some of the biggest names in sports history are coming out to show support. Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, Gary Payton, and Lenny Wilkens, along with current NBA-star Jamal Crawford, will be at Sammamish High School for the noon-3:30pm event. They’re coming to help RunFreely get veterans walking and running without pain. For just one of these stars to agree to come out would be a milestone for most non-profits. The fact that all five of them will be there together says volumes about Kenny and Gretchen, their passion for helping veterans and this important cause.
August 11th, noon-3:30pm, Sammamish High School, Bellevue, WA
Register to attend this weekend’s event, or donate to RunFreely, at runfreely.org