When you first meet Siesta Key resident Alex Miller, he seems like a typical 13-year-old boy.
He likes to hang with his friends, play sports and is constantly connected to the outside world, thanks to his cell phone. Alex’s love for athletics led him to start trying out a variety of different extreme sports, such as skateboarding, rock climbing and kayaking. He even started competing in triathlons.
Although Alex’s athletic lifestyle is impressive, what makes Alex more unique is that he does all these things with a prosthetic right leg.
Alex, along with his twin brother, Nick, was born 15 weeks early, because of a complication called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. The boys were airlifted to Tampa General. There, doctors amputated Alex’s right leg while he was in the incubator. One year later, he was fitted for his first prosthetic leg.
Today, Alex uses three different legs, each with its own purpose. His running leg is known as a flex foot, or cheetah leg. He has a second for being around water, and three months ago, he received his C-Leg, a computerized model that reacts to his left side movements. Alex said he prefers his new, highly technical leg, but a few weeks ago, he had to leave his school, Sarasota Middle, because it stopped working.
“My leg felt different, and it was really stiff, and I realized it was dead,” he said laughing. “I had to go home because of that and charge it up.”
Alex got involved in the Extremity Games in 2007. The Extremity Games allows people with physical disabilities to compete in a variety of extreme sports, such as rock climbing, wakeboarding and skateboarding. He’s also completed the San Diego Triathlon Challenge in California, which he hopes to do again this October.
Although the brothers have different interests, they both have participated in lifeguard camp on Siesta Key Beach and are getting ready to train together for the Florida International Triathlon in May on Siesta Key Beach. Alex and Nick each plan to form their own teams for the triathlon.
Alex admits there will be a “little rivalry” between the teams, but he is excited for the opportunity to compete against his brother and with their friends on his hometown beach.
Despite his prosthetic, Miller doesn’t think of himself as different and has learned that when people ask about his leg, it isn’t because they are trying to be mean. They are honestly just curious.
“I’m not much different than other kids,” he says. “I can do way more than they (people) expect me to do and probably even more than they can do … (but) I’m not trying to brag.”