In an effort to get the word out on his Little Buddy Foundation, Greg Pruitt met with the Dickinson Press to do a story on the charity. One day later, Pruitt heard about a high school basketball player in Wahpeton who had his leg amputated. Pruitt said it was a sign and he knew instantly Jacob Petermann would be the first prosthetic recipient from his foundation.
“A friend of mine called and said, ‘I don’t know if this is a coincidence or what’s going on,’ and I said, ‘Wow,’” Pruitt said. “Right then and there we said Jacob had to be the first recipient of the Little Buddy Foundation.”
The Little Buddy Foundation started a year ago and the mission is to give prosthetics to children who need them. Pruitt, who is the head basketball coach at Glen Ullin Hebron, named the organization in memory of his late mentor, Coach Don Meyer. Meyer, a legendary coach at Northern State University, also had his leg amputated.
“(Meyer) obviously was in an accident, had his leg amputated and he came and spoke to the school that I taught at one time,” Pruitt said. “He was talking to the elementary and he was using his knee. He called his little knee Little Buddy.”
Pruitt reached out to Petermann shortly after he heard his story. The pair have been in contact over the phone multiple times, but hadn’t met in person until Pruitt presented Petermann with his new “Cheetah Foot Explorer,” during the Jacob Petermann 3-on-3 Tournament on Wednesday, April 24. The two shared a hug while the entire Wahpeton student body filled the gym with applause.
“It was very cool. (Pruitt’s) a great guy and very generous. He is very inspiring,” Petermann said. “I feel very honored (to be the first recipient). It was just an awesome gift at the right time. It really helped to have extra help with my new life with a prosthetic.”
The process of getting Petermann a new foot, which will help him participate in a variety of activities like sports or skiing, included Pruitt working with a connection he has at Ossur Prosthetics. Ossur had a custom-made foot drawn up for him and airdropped it to Shriners Hospital to have it made. Pruitt picked it up and delivered it to Petermann.
“Being a basketball coach, knowing he loved the game of basketball and how his accident happened on the basketball court, it’s a sign,” Pruitt said. “I’m just happy to be here and I’m happy that he’s going to be the first one to receive it.”
Another impact Pruitt had on Petermann was when he contacted Seattle Seahawk Shaquem Griffin, who had his hand amputated at the age of 4 and went on to play for Petermann’s favorite NFL team. Pruitt told the Seattle Seahawk about Petermann and Griffin sent the Wahpeton student a video encouraging him.
“I was ecstatic,” Petermann said. “I couldn’t believe Coach Pruitt was able to reach him and he actually sent a video.”
The organization has raised more than $37,000. Along with donating his coaching salary to the foundation every season, Pruitt also raises money through youth basketball camps. He hopes people involved in the foundation will make appearances at the camps in the future.
“Former players that are helping me along the way and hopefully we just keep it going. I’d really like to expand it and bring in kids like Jacob when we have basketball camps,” Pruitt said. “Bring that story into it and say, ‘Here’s why we’re doing this.’ It’s a neat thing and I’m just happy to help Jacob out.”
Petermann and his family are grateful for all Pruitt’s done for them. He’s excited to put the new foot to good use.
“Just to be able to run or jump. Just to get back on the court some will be great. Or walk in a lake,” Petermann said.
Petermann’s new friend is also excited for the future.
“We’re here to help any child that needs a prosthetic. My goal is to leave a legacy and long after I’m gone we’re still helping children,” Pruitt said. “Maybe down the road Jacob will beat me in HORSE.”