Shar­ing a friend­ship and a tra­di­tion

Child am­putees form last­ing bond through long-stand­ing pro­gram

The Compass - - News -

STRAT­FORD, ON – Nineyear-old Ry­ley McMil­lan and Myles New­ton, 5, of Strat­ford, Ont. spot­ted each other for the first time through a fence that sep­a­rated their neigh­bour­ing school and day­care. Notic­ing they both share some­thing spe­cial, they would of­ten give each other a wave. To­day, the boys share a strong friend­ship as well as a Re­mem­brance Day tra­di­tion.

Ry­ley was born a left arm am­putee and Myles a right leg am­putee. They are both mem­bers of the War Amps Child Am­putee (CHAMP) Pro­gram. War am­putee veter­ans cre­ated the War Amps in 1918, its Key Tag Ser­vice in 1946, and later, the CHAMP Pro­gram.

Since 1975, thou­sands of child am­putees have re­ceived fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance for their ar­ti­fi­cial limbs through CHAMP and have at­tended re­gional sem­i­nars where they learn about grow­ing up as an am­putee.

For the past cou­ple of years, Ry­ley and Myles have laid a wreath to­gether at their lo­cal Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony on be­half of the War Amps Op­er­a­tion Legacy. By do­ing this, they pay trib­ute to the sac­ri­fices of the war am­putee veter­ans who started the as­so­ci­a­tion.

Re­becca, Myles’ mom, says it is im­por­tant for her son to mark Re­mem­brance Day by lay­ing a wreath.

“To know that veter­ans were part of cre­at­ing the CHAMP Pro­gram, which we are so grate­ful for to­day, makes it im­por­tant for him to have that con­nec­tion.” Pow­er­ful ex­pe­ri­ence

It was at a War Amps CHAMP sem­i­nar, an an­nual re­gional event for child am­putees and their par­ents, that the two boys met for the first time with­out a fence sep­a­rat­ing them. Ry­ley has at­tended many sem­i­nars, which his mom, Crys­tal, de­scribes as a pow­er­ful ex­pe­ri­ence.

“It put us at ease to know that he was go­ing to be OK. The War Amps has sup­ported us emo­tion­ally and sup­ported Ry­ley to do things like any other child.”

But the boys’ friend­ship ex­tends be­yond the sem­i­nars and Re­mem­brance Day Re­becca says Myles looks up to Ry­ley, who of­ten plays hockey on their back­yard rink in the win­ter. To see Ry­ley not let­ting his am­pu­ta­tion stop him from be­ing ac­tive re­minds Myles that he too can do any­thing he sets his mind to.

When war am­putee veter­ans started the War Amps pro­gram nearly 100 years ago, they could not have pre­dicted their legacy would be re­mem­bered and car­ried on for years to come by young am­putees like Ry­ley and Myles.

Thanks to the pub­lic’s sup­port of the Key Tag Ser­vice, the War Amps’ vi­tal pro­grams for am­putees across Canada will con­tinue long into the fu­ture.

Myles New­ton, left, and Ry­ley McMil­lan, right, lay­ing a wreath on be­half of the War Amps.

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