Clive resident Leelan Brayford, 6, hasn’t let being an amputee slow him down one bit.
And as his mom Jeanna explained, assistance from The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program has helped to make a big difference in helping Leelan - a below-elbow amputee on his right arm - to expand his horizons through taking part in more sports, for example.
According to a release, as a member of the CHAMP Program, Leelan is eligible for financial assistance for artificial limbs and recreational devices.
“He tries everything, just like everybody else,” she said, adding that in the past the family has also attended CHAMP seminars where kids and their parents learn about the latest in artificial limbs, how to deal with teasing and bullying, and moms and dads can also learn more about parenting a child amputee.
Jeanna remembers it as being a really important learning opportunity for the family. And just having opportunities to meet other families and talk to parents about their experiences was really invaluable, she said.
Plus, it’s a terrific way to keep up with the latest in funding opportunities, new activities, and of course new breakthroughs in technology in relation to devices that can go a long way to removing obstacles.
Meanwhile, Leelan enjoys everything from biking (for which he has an adaptor) to playing hockey. “He’s always busy doing something,” she said. “He’s also very independent.”
And speaking of hockey, he has been fitted with a special device to help him hold onto the stick.
“He puts on a silicone sleeve with a pin on the end of it, and that pin goes right into his adaptor,” she explained. The family received, as mentioned, help from The War Amps to purchase the device, which can be quite costly.
“We would never be able to afford these adaptors,” she said. “That device for the hockey stick, for example, is $4,500. The device to help him with his biking would typically cost around $2,500 if not more.
“Anything that we have asked for - we have never been rejected. It’s been wonderful.
“We are so appreciative of the support The War Amps is providing. The support means that Leelan can play hockey and take part in activities just like any other child.”
Of course, there are challenges.
People will often stare, for one thing. Jeanna said that children often have questions about Leelan’s arm, which makes their own parents uncomfortable. But Jeanna pointed out that she’s open to talking about it, and she encourages Leelan to be open about it as well.
“These kids are curious and they want to know. I’ve said to Leelan that if he sees someone looking at him, he should just say, ‘Would you like to ask me something?’”
Ultimately, she added that parents should explain to their kids that sometimes, people are just born this way. Any sort of stigma simply needs to end and be replaced with open, honest discussions and greater acceptance.
Meanwhile, The War Amps encourages kids like Leelan to develop a positive attitude toward their amputation and try whatever activity they set their mind to.
“Leelan’s determination and zest for life is an inspiration to all,” said Danita Chisholm, executive director of the CHAMP Program.
“Thanks to the public’s support of The War Amps Key Tag Service, we are able to help young amputees like Leelan reach their goals.”
The War Amps receives no government grants; its programs are made possible through the support of the Key Tag and Address Label Service.
In the meantime, Jeanna couldn’t be more proud of her champ.
“Leelan is very kind, generous, and very social,” she said. “We are so blessed.”