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Triathlon with one hand? No problem

June 4, 2008 | 11:00 am

Two years ago Internet entrepreneur Keiron McCammon amazed Silicon Valley by returning to work three months after his left hand was amputated, the result of a paragliding accident in the foothills of the Andes in Colombia.

Keiron McCammon Not only did he dive back into work, but he also experimented with different prosthetics to practice yoga, ride a bike and play the guitar. He hit the road in a Toyota Prius with the license plate 1 HANDED, commuting 80 miles round trip from his Danville, Calif., home in the carpool lane. He began blogging about his experiences and created an online group for those who have had upper-limb amputations. When he hit the slopes to snowboard, he discovered as an amputee that he could score half-price lift tickets.

What lifted McCammon's spirits? He credits his passion for his then-little start-up Kaboodle, the faith of his co-founder and friend Manish Chandra and the love of his wife, Kerry.

Another high: Selling Kaboodle, which is in Santa Clara, Calif., to Hearst in August 2007. Since then, the site has become one of the largest and fastest-growing online social shopping communities, with more than 500,000 members and more than 6.5 million monthly visitors.

McCammon is Kaboodle's chief technology officer and vice president of product management. His cool new toy: a high-tech bionic hand...

... that he got last year. He is among the first to use the nimble i-LIMB, made by Scottish company Touch Bionics, which promises to change the lives of amputees.

Keiron McCammon in the poolAs a technology evangelist, McCammon predicted soon after his accident that technology would again make him whole. But even he had no idea that he would get such futuristic bionic engineering this soon. He thrills to securely grip a wineglass, a piece of paper or the steering wheel with his left hand as shown here on a recent Bay Area newscast. "The ultimate gadget for the amputee about town," he joked.

Now the self-described "tri limb" is attempting a triathlon in September to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He recently embarked on a six-day-a-week training regimen, which proved tougher than he imagined. Picture trying to do the front crawl with one hand. Imagine the pain created by placing constant pressure on his stump during a 50-minute bike ride.

"Since I lost my hand back in 2006, swimming 1.5 kilometers, biking 40 kilometers and running 10 kilometers ain’t no walk (ride, swim) in the park. But hell, what is life without a few challenges to overcome?" McCammon said.

For inspiration, he keeps a list of amputee triathletes on Kaboodle. Anyone who wants to give him a hand in his fundraising efforts can do so here.

-- Jessica Guynn

Photos courtesy of Keiron McCammon