For the first time, a young boy is experiencing the coming-of-age joy of learning to ride a bike thanks to the efforts of War Amps Child Amputee Program.
Eight-year-old Jaxson Linn of Mission has lived with one arm his entire life, but was never comfortable turning on a bicycle until he was fitted with his new recreational-prosthetic arm.
Now he wants to be on the road for four hours a days, according to his mother Trish Linn.
“It’s phenomenal and he’s so excited,” Linn said. “I could barely get out of bed in the morning before he would be like, ‘Mom, lets go! Can we go biking?’”
The War Amps Child Amputee Program (CHAMPS) fully covers the cost of these recreational-prosthetic devices, which can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, according to Leah Cameron, communications officer for War Amps. She said they are designed for swimming, biking and even playing a musical instrument.
“CHAMP considers recreational limbs and devices to be a necessity for child amputees so they can keep active and take part in activities with their friends and families,” Cameron said.
Linn said Jaxson was measured, had a mold made of the arm to be fitted with the device, had a custom grip for his bike, and was even allowed to choose his own colour. She said the bike-riding grip can even be interchanged with other devices by twisting off the top.
Although nervous at first because he hadn’t found much success using prosthetic devices in the past, Jaxson is now “doing the normal things that kids with one hand just can’t do,” Linn said.
“It’s just like he has two hands … We just call it his bike arm.”
Since Jaxson was born, War Amps has been instrumental in allowing him, and his parents, normalize challenges that life throws his way, Linn said.
She said every year they attend a large War Amps seminar in B.C. with other families with loved ones missing limbs.
“It made us feel like we weren’t alone, it gave us hope because we’re not the only family dealing with this. We can see how people are thriving,” Linn said.
“We’ve gone very year since.”
She said the parents attend seminars on how to help their children, while the kids take seminars on how to deal with bullying and cope with difficult situations.
Families are then divided into groups with other people who have the same disabilities.
“All these kids come and they’ve got either missing limbs, legs, whatever; it just doesn’t matter … Some are younger, some are older,” Linn said. “One girl, she showed us how to tie her shoe with one hand.
“Jaxson has built lifelong friends because of it.”
For his part, Jaxson is now trying to pay it forward, according to Linn.
“He likes to be known as the ‘Bottle Boy of Mission,’ because he collects cans and bottles for different charities, one of which is War Amps,” she said. “He wants to give back to them. That was actually his choice to start doing that.”