Physical trainer Lindsay Pieper watches Tyrone Fulgham of Auburn jog around the track Wednesday morning at Bates College in Lewiston where he is learning to run on his new prosthetic blade. He always picks lane 4 to train on because it was in that lane, at this track, he won a state championship in 1988 when he was in high school. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Scenes from the life of Tyrone Fulgham, the 52-year-old Auburn man who lost his leg when a motorcycle plowed into him last September. 

Tyrone Fulgham of Auburn grimaces as he works out April 22 at Planet Fitness in Auburn while listening to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Most days, Fulgham will get up three hours early to begin the process of putting on his prosthetic leg. The stump shrinks a bit during the night so the prosthetic won’t always fit right at first.  

Fulgham slips on a gel liner and waits, sometimes up to an hour, before the prosthetic will fit into place. It’s a long process and demands patience. 

“When you first get up, you feel very stiff and rigid,” Fulgham says. “It takes a little while to get back because you’re using different muscles now.” 

Once, at last, the prosthetic leg fits over the remnant of his right leg, it’s time to walk. As it happens, walking with an artificial limb is not as simple as walking with a real one. 

“When you first stand up, it’s like you’re a little baby again,” Fulgham says. “It’s like you’re on stilts. You have to take a big step out. You almost kick the leg so the knee action works. It’s a lot of work. Once you get used to it, it becomes more like memory, but it takes time. You don’t have a foot so you can’t feel when that foot is on the ground. You have to learn to calculate steps. Then you’ve got hip motion and things like that, so, yeah. It’s challenging but fascinating, too.” 


Fulgham will spend part of his day battling with state bureaucracy. Out of work for seven months since the accident, his bills are piling up and in spite of losing most of one leg and the other badly mangled, the state hasn’t been forthcoming with disability benefits. 

Tyrone Fulgham of Auburn works out April 22 at Planet Fitness in Auburn while listening to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

“They denied me because they think I have the capacity to work,” Fulgham says. “And someday I will work, but when I have the capacity to do that, I would only be able to do it part time with the way I sit and stand — I can’t stand for a long time and I can’t sit for a long time. So I have to go through the wringer with them.” 

There are other frustrations, too, naturally. A lifelong runner, Fulgham is not used to being homebound much of the time. He’s not accustomed to relying on others for help. Some days, it’s hard to fend off the blues, yet fending off the blues is something Fulgham has been doing since he lost his leg in that mad, split-second horror on South Witham Road. 

On Sept. 23 at about 5 p.m., Fulgham was running through a quiet stretch of Auburn, getting in 8 miles as part of training for an upcoming marathon. 

He was on South Witham Road, about 4 miles into his run when he was struck by an oncoming motorcyclist who had lost control of his bike as he was coming down a hill. The biker, 28-year-old Mason Perez of Auburn, laid the bike down and it slid straight at Fulgham. 

“I could see the bike,” Fulgham recalls. “I could see the guy’s face. The bike went right through me. It instantly took my leg.” 


Fulgham might have died at the side of the road if not for two crucial things. A group of golfers who came to his aid from a nearby course, for starters. And his own will to live. 

Tyrone swaps his walking prosthetic to his running blade Wednesday morning in Merrill Gymnasium at Bates College in Lewiston before he starts training. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Through the entire ordeal, Fulgham was a major part of his own rescue, advising those around him on how to apply a tourniquet to stop the mad rush of blood from his severed limb. 

He forced himself to remain conscious through the ordeal, fully aware that with one leg gone and the other hideously mangled, his life had changed forever. 

It was a long and difficult recovery for Fulgham, who underwent several surgeries and battled through infections that set his progress back by months.  

He’s been helped in great part, Fulgham says, by his two children, an ex-wife and several family friends who have stepped up to give him the best chance going forward. 

Throughout the ordeal, Fulgham has been adamant about one thing in particular: he will run again.  


Fulgham started running when he was in high school, on the cross country team. He won a state championship with the Lewiston track team in 1988. When Fulgham runs at Merrill Gym at Bates College, he still uses lane 4 because that’s where he won it all. And since graduating, he’s been running in marathons wherever he can find them. 

To run after an accident that claimed a leg requires special equipment. Specifically, it requires a running blade, a kind of curved, lightweight prosthetic made famous by runner and double amputee Oscar Pistorius. 

Fulgham got fitted for his running blade just days ago. He knows that blade represents his path back to marathons, but he’s also wise enough to know it won’t happen overnight. 

Fulgham wants to be ready for one of the 5K races over the summer and it’s an ambitious goal — predictably, running with an artificial limb is nothing much at all like running with a real one.  

“A lot of it is a bounce,” Fulgham says. “You have to spring off that blade and kind of bound forward to get the motion going. When you’re not running, it feels like you’re very uneven because the blade has bounce to it. It’s the whole balance thing. You have to relearn everything.” 

In fact, Fulgham’s entire journey could be explained in that one sentence: You have to relearn everything. 

Whether it’s something as simple as taking a shower, or something monumental, like setting your sights on the Boston Marathon, Fulgham knows that all of it will require patience and the brand of grim determination he’s exhibited from the start. 

“It’s good to be up and walking again,” he says, “but it’s all going to take some time.”

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