A story of perseverance: Valley high school athlete gets back to what he loves after amputation

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OAKHURST, California – It’s an inspiring story of perseverance.

PJ Kuzmitski has been on a long road to recovery since suffering a devastating injury at football practice in 2017. He thought it was a bad dislocation and underwent surgery at Community Regional Medical Center, but later learned his lower right leg would need to be amputated.

At first, he didn’t know if he would be able to play football or wrestle again, both sports he says he has a passion for.

“It’s the thing I love most in life it’s the thing I get the most enjoyment out of and it’s what really drives my life and I couldn’t stand to have to sit out and just be able to watch that,” said Kuzmitski.

Now two years later, Kuzmitski is a sophomore at Yosemite High School. With the approval of his doctors and his new prosthetic leg, he was able to participate in wrestling and football season at Yosemite High.

“If there’s any chance of me getting back into the sport I’m going to do it,” said Kuzmitski.

His hard work and dedication paid off. This season he plays for the junior varsity team and during his first game, he scored a touchdown. His mother, Susie Kessler, says she had mixed emotions about his return to the sport but wanted to see him follow his dreams.

“It’s devastating but he is taking it so incredibly well he doesn’t think of it as a handicap, he thinks of it as normal,” said Kessler.

His positive attitude and perseverance will be the foundation of the Yosemite High School football season, says head coach Chance Sigala.

“I’m pretty sure a lot of those kids thought for a while they wouldn’t get to play with PJ again and for him to come back like this and play is just an inspiration,” says Sigala.

Athletic Director Rusty Oetinger says he is a stellar athlete and overall great student.

“He really is a great example of perseverance not only is he a great athlete he has a great attitude in school he’s a good student just communicates well super soft-spoken guy and really does a good job of leading by example,” says athletic director, Rusty Oetinger.

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