Calgary teen leg amputee credits The War Amps with helping her keep up with her brothers

The organization is celebrating its 75-year milestone this year

By Krista Sylvester | December 13, 2021 |11:00 pm

Seventeen-year-old Tess Bessant has been involved in The War Amps program since she was a child and credits the organization for its programs and helping her get a waterproof artificial leg.

Photo: Submitted

Getting in and out of the shower safely might seem like a small thing for most people, but for 17-year-old Tess Bessant, it’s only one of her daily challenges. 

Bessant is a right leg amputee and was fitted with a waterproof artificial leg this year, through The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program’s financial assistance service.

The biggest day-to-day benefit she’s noticed is the ability to get in and out of the shower safely because the grips on the foot help her walk safely on slippery surfaces.

Because of the artificial leg, she’ll soon be able to do the other things in life she enjoys, like trying it on a surfboard when she visits Costa Rica.

“It’s fun being able to keep up with my brothers, too, with watersports and whatnot over the summer,” she says. “I haven’t had [an artificial leg] since I was little, so it’s been really fun getting it and learning to paddleboard with my brothers,” she says. 

How the organization gave Bessant hope 

Bessant has been involved in the War Amps program since she was a child and says she and her family have benefitted in a variety of ways, including through the organization’s programs. 

CHAMP’s program matches families together and has helped her parents meet people, but also helped her make new friends, too. One friend she met through the program encouraged Bessant to get involved in a lot of the sports she is into now. 

“Honestly, it’s such a great community, especially getting to attend the summit now as an older kid mentoring the younger kids,” she adds. 

“The support from The War Amps means that I can do whatever I set my mind to.”

Celebrating an important milestone 

This year marks the 75th anniversary of The War Amps Key Tag Service. Donations to the lost key return service have made a difference in many lives, including Bessant’s. 

“It means a lot to everyone when someone does help out with the organization,” Bessant says. 

The Key Tag Service was launched in 1946 and has returned more than 1.5 million sets of lost keys to the owners.

“We’d like to thank the public for helping to make this service a success,” says spokesperson Rob Larman, himself a graduate of the CHAMP Program. 

“Your support funds essential programs for all amputees across Canada, including children and veterans.”

Each key tag has a confidentially coded number. If you lose your keys, the finder can call the toll-free number on the back of the tag or place them in any mailbox in Canada, and The War Amps will return them to you by courier, free of charge.

Visit here for more information or to order key tags. 

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Krista Sylvester

Reporter at Calgary Citizen

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