At age 10, Nicole was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer). After numerous chemotherapy treatments at the Mayo Clinic, the life-saving decision was made to have her left leg amputated below the knee. Despite having what some may consider to be a disability, she has never let her amputation stop her. Her competitive nature and athleticism has propelled her to compete in numerous triathlons, half marathons, and bike races across the U.S., empowering herself and others to redefine disability.

What you might be surprised to learn is that Nicole must use her one prosthetic leg to do it all. The reason? Prosthetics are expensive – costing $5,000 – $50,000, while only lasting 3-5 years – and often not covered by insurance. “Activity-specific” prosthetics – like Oscar Pistorius’ running blades, Amy Purdy’s snowboarding legs, or Tom Whittaker’s mountaineering (Mt. Everest) leg – are out of reach to most amputees who could benefit from those technologies.

Nicole wants to be a voice for change. And she’s willing to break her only leg to do it.

This fall she will be embarking on a journey – called “Forrest Stump” – to raise awareness about the barriers that limit access to prosthetic technology. She has assembled a team of athletes and supporters to complete a 1,500 mile triathlon (swimming, biking, and running) down the entire west coast. Along the way she will be raising money and advocating for legislative changes affecting health care coverage for prosthetic devices.

Will Nicole’s $15,000 leg survive the journey? Join Forrest Stump to find out.

“Incredible technology exists in the prosthetic world – and it’s getting better every day. The idea of having a leg that is waterproof…or even one that doesn’t break when I run, would be absolutely amazing! And the technology does exist for that. Unfortunately, many amputees like myself don’t have access. I try to make my one leg work for everything I do since that is what insurance will cover.”

Nicole Ver Kuilen

Amputee, age 25


The core team completing the 1,500 mile journey

Nicole Ver Kuilen


Nicole has been an amputee for 16 years (and counting!) and wants to be a voice for a change in the system.  With the help of a grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, and YOUR support, she knows we can make a difference by telling her story.

Kathleen Wang

Captain Social

Kathleen is a social butterfly and never backs down from a challenge. In fact, that’s how Nicole and Kathleen met… Nicole taught her how to bike and swim (did we mention this happened in June?). Now, she wants to help. She’ll be putting her skills to work with everything from PR to sponsorships to social media.

Natalie Harold

The Mechanic

Every team needs a good pit crew, and that is Nat! A prosthetic/orthotic resident in training, Nat is Nicole’s mechanic, or as they call it in the industry, her “prosthetist.” She even built the leg Nicole will be completing the journey on.

Jan Harley

Mother of Logistics

Jan, aka Nicole’s mom, is Forrest Stump’s biggest fan. You could say she’s been there from Day 0. She is the team’s driver and “Mother of Logistics,” helping to make sure everything runs smoothly while on the road.

The last straw. My journey to Forrest Stump.

It's crazy to think I've been an amputee now for 16 years; it's even crazier to realize that I've been battling the entire time to access better prosthetic technology. I first realized the system needed to change when at 10 years old, months after my amputation,...
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What would make 10-year old you proud?

A friend recently passed along this commercial by Indeed (job search app) and I couldn't help but feel an instant connection to our pursuit with Forrest Stump. The first question: What would make 10-year old you proud? It's not hard for me to remember exactly where I...
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Our world needs breakthroughs

Three weeks ago, I received the Victors Valiant Award for my work in fundraising at the University of Michigan. Yesterday, I quit my job. It seems fitting that the words on this award will help propel me into my next venture: "Our world needs breakthroughs. There is...
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We couldn’t do it without you! Thanks for being our supporters every step of the way.



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