Assisting Amputees To Pursue Their Sporting Dreams
The START foundation empowers amputees in life through sport, by providing grants to purchase sports prosthesis or adaptive equipment to help them achieve their sporting dreams.
The START Story
START foundation was established in 2013 through the inspiring story of Kerryn Harvey, who became an amputee through a cycling accident. Kerryn immediately understood the challenges faced by amputees to integrate back into the community and recognised sport as a tremendous avenue to recapture aspects of her life and to engage with those with similar interests. Through Kerryn’s personal experience, the concept of START foundation was created and now, five years on, assisting amputees to achieve their sporting dreams has become a reality.
Kerryn’s Sporting Dream
Kerryn’s sporting dream became START Foundation’s major fundraising activity during the 2015. Not long after leaving the Royal Adelaide Hospital as a patient, Kerryn watched a former Australian Rules Football Champion, Shane Crawford, cycle from Melbourne to Perth to raise money for a charity close to his heart. She was full of admiration and inspiration by what he had achieved.
Soon an idea sparked in Kerryn’s mind that she, too, could make a difference.
“I thought if Shane could do it, why couldn’t I? It didn’t seem to matter that I had a newly acquired disability as an amputee, and I had no clue about how I would be able to ride a bike. I thought this could be all worked out with enough lead in time”. Kerryn Harvey
A team soon came together to coordinate a bicycle ride from Perth to Melbourne. The ride would take the peloton through Adelaide where Kerryn could visit the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) and thank the team who saved her life. The event was named ‘Ride for the RAH’.
The answer to Kerryn being able to return to cycling and achieve such an enormous goal was the purchase of a tandem bike named “Wagstaff”; named after Kerryn’s surgeon Dr Wagstaff. Kerryn was able to ride on the back of the bike as the “stoker”, with all gears and brakes being operated by the “pilot” at the front of the bike.
In simple terms, the Ride for the RAH was epic! Over five weeks the peloton cycled 3,602km across three states, raising awareness and critical funds for START Foundation.
In 2016 START Foundation was able to launch its Grant Program. Since then, numerous grants have been awarded to amputees to enable them to purchase sports specific prosthesis or adaptive sports equipment. Here are some of our amazing recipients and their inspiring stories:
Liam is an impressive young man who became a transtibial amputee at a young age. At 22, Liam was unable to participate in sport without experiencing discomfort and pain with his current prosthesis. Since receiving a grant from START Foundation in 2016, Liam now has a new multi-purpose prosthesis that allows him to run and participate in many sporting activities.
Chelsea is a 15 year old with a passion for horses and equestrian dressage competition. Chelsea was born with a limb difference in her right leg and when she was 17 months old, the decision was made to amputate her leg above knee. She has pursued her love for horses and competing in dressage, with aspirations to compete in the Paralympics in the dressage category. Chelsea was awarded a grant to purchase a custom-made saddle and stirrup to give her greater balance and stability on the horse.
Jacob is an active and highly motivated 17 year old who has a below knee symes amputation with a passion for football and athletics. Travelling twice a week to Geelong for athletics coaching, three hours each way, he has seen a gradual improvement across the sprint distances and long jump. Jacob was fitted with a running blade and saw immediate improvements in his training and competition, including a silver medal in the 2018 National Junior Track & Field Championships. The new blade allows Jacob to train with confidence and continue to set new goals in a sport he loves.
In July 2015 Jason’s life changed forever when he went into septic shock following an infection. As a consequence, Jason is now a bi-lateral below knee amputee, below elbow amputee (left) and has pincer function with his right hand. He also suffered acute kidney failure and requires dialysis three times a week. This has not diminished Jason’s determination to get back into the water and rediscover the sense of freedom the ocean gives him whenever he’s out on his surf board. Jason is now being fitted with a pair of prosthetic swim fins. His sporting dream is to catch waves again on his beloved surf board.
During the next twelve months and beyond, START Foundation aims to expand the Grant Program so more grants can be awarded across Australia. There is a commitment to realise further philanthropic, corporate and donor based funding to enable START Foundation to offer a minimum of 12 grants per year by 2020. A key to START Foundation’s success is developing strong relationships with prosthetists and sporting organisations across Australia, so clients can be made aware of our Grant Program, and together we can assist amputees to achieve their sporting dreams!
Guest post by Michelle Jelleff. Michelle is the founding director and
chair of START Foundation in
Elsternwick/Australia. For more information, please visit the START Foundation website or follow them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.