Press Release – Snowplanet
“I went home from school that day and told my parents I’d had enough and wanted to amputate”. These were the chilling words of Byron ‘Buzz’ Raubenheimer, a young man born with Paraxial Fibula Hemimelia where one leg is significantly shorter …SNOWPLANET MEDIA RELEASE
Amputee set to take on World Stage
“I went home from school that day and told my parents I’d had enough and wanted to amputate”. These were the chilling words of Byron ‘Buzz’ Raubenheimer, a young man born with Paraxial Fibula Hemimelia where one leg is significantly shorter than the other.
Buzz was born in South Africa and immigrated to New Zealand with his parents. While most children are running around enjoying life Buzz spent his formative years in and out of hospital with numerous surgeries in an attempt to lengthen the bone in his right leg. Following years of distress Buzz, while still at school, made the brave decision to have his leg amputated. Buzz recalls the moment, “we went to see Dr Nicholl and he said the amputation could take place in 2 weeks, I was terrified!”
The operation was a success and required considerable rehabilitation work. “I will never forget my first steps on my prosthetic, as I’m sure any amputee will tell you they are both terrifying and rewarding at the same time” Buzz said.
As Buzz’s confidence grew he joined in competitive sports, taking 2 wickets in his first game of cricket, and finding a new passion in downhill mountain biking. “This is definitely what got me into extreme sports. I also started rockclimbing. After a few years of being an amputee I had to have a second amputation because I had grown too much and my bone was going to start pushing through my skin”.
It was after Buzz’s second amputation that Auckland met a rainy day and he and a friend decided to learn how to snowboard at Snowplanet. After a few faceplants Buzz was hooked, he bought his first Snowboard and went to Snowplanet every week to learn tricks. When winter arrived Buzz went to the Mountain for the first time where he saw a flyer for Adaptive snowboarding and got in contact with Carl Murphy (World No. 2). “He was excited to hear from me so invited me down to Ruapehu to ride with him”.
Buzz made further contacts in the industry as they were impressed with his riding and enthusiasm. He eventually met Jamie Lane (Snowplanet Head Freestyle Coach) and began training under Jamie. “Buzz’s raw talent is incredible and he has an amazing attitude, he is going to achieve great things” says Lane.
Earlier this year Buzz began training for the Para-Snowboard World Cup, which was part of the NZ Winter Games. While training he was nominated for ‘Emerging Talent of the Year’ at the Snowsports New Zealand (SSNZ) Annual Awards.
Then came the moment of truth, competing on the world stage. “I survived my first ever run in a Professional race with no mistakes!” Buzz went on to finish 5th, an incredible result for a ‘newby’.
Competing in World Cup events means travel, which requires money. Buzz approached Snowplanet for assistance, Tony O’Regan, Snowplanet CEO, recalls ‘this big athletic guy approached me and said he wanted to win a World Cup event. When I heard his story I thought we have to help this guy’.
Today a life size cut-out of Buzz fills the Snowplanet reception area where guests can donate a small amount to help Buzz achieve his dream of bringing home a medal to New Zealand. “I have no doubt he will achieve it” says O’Regan.