By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — James Osborne doesn’t let anything slow him down.
That means nothing, not his work as an elementary teacher at the Southern NH Montessori Academy in Londonderry, or the fact that the Manchester man is a leg and foot amputee.
Osborne will take part this month in the Challenged Athletes Foundation Dodge Million Dollar Challenge, a 620-mile, seven-day bicycle ride from San Francisco to San Diego.
The ride raises money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and is open to only 100 riders.
Osborne is the first Granite State resident to participate in the event.
For him, it was sports that kept him going.
After suffering severe frostbite and hypothermia during a winter hike five years ago in Franconia State Park, Osborne said learning to do things again after losing a foot and leg was a challenge.
“The most important moments of my recovery have been sports,” he said. “Relearning to ski and bicycle are what has made me whole again.”
The 41-year-old teacher became a strong supporter of the Challenged Athletes Foundation and this past June he took part in a running clinic for amputees.
“I saw a little boy run for the first time, he was so excited,” Osborne said. “The look on his face was beyond words.”
That type of clinic for amputees, as well as sponsoring Para-Olympic and professional level athletic events, is something CAF does on a regular basis.
The organization has also been featured in nationally televised programs.
“The organization is more than just bike rides and triathlons,” Osborne said. “The fundamental premise is to get people participating in life.”
Debra Hogan, head of the Southern NH Montessori Academy, said Osborne is an inspiration to the students and staff.
“It is quite common to have students with varying abilities in a classroom, but not as often do we have the opportunity to have diversity in our teaching teams,” she said. “Having James as a member of our school helps to break down the social barriers of inquisitiveness.”
Children often will ask Osborne about his “fake leg” or if it gets cold or not, she said.
The Million Dollar Challenge begins Oct. 12 in California. The school will be cheering Osborne on.
“We are all extremely excited for James and will integrate his journey into our classroom curriculum to stay connected with him during his upcoming challenge,” co-teacher Julie Anderson said.
To learn more about the Challenged Athletes Foundation, visit challengedathletes.org.