Xander Ricketts

Xander Ricketts

Locals attend War Amps Child Amputee seminar

Two local children went to the War Amps Child Amputee seminar in Winnipeg with their families.

In everyone’s eyes, Xander Ricketts and Cooper Bauer are true champions.

The two local children returned from Winnipeg three weeks ago where they attended the War Amps 2014 Western Child Amputee (CHAMP) Seminar; a seminar that brings together child amputees from across the western provinces.

One-year-old Xander of Sparwood was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD), a rare disorder that can cause hip deformation resulting in shortened limbs. In Xander’s case, his right femur is about 50 per cent shorter than his left, meaning he has to wear a prosthetic leg to make up for the three to four inch difference.

Cooper, 2, was also born missing some of the fingers on his left hand.

“Nothing at all stops him when it comes to his amputation … He is a wildchild,” described Rebecca Robinson-Bauer, Cooper’s mother.

Elkford local Cooper is an avid biker and loves copying his dad when they go out for rides. He is frequently spotted popping wheelies thanks to a prosthesis the CHAMPs program donated to the Bauer family.

“Two of Cooper’s prostheses were super expensive and we didn’t have to worry about anything,” explained Rebecca.

Ashley Ricketts, Xander’s mother, described the seminar that the War Amps put on as “overwhelming” as her and Xander’s father Jordan attended many talks over the weekend.

“There’s something wrong with you if you go to a seminar and you don’t cry,” laughed Ashley.

Some seminar highlights included the latest developments in artificial limbs, how to parent a child amputee and a concern that plagues all parents, especially those with children who are amputees: bullying in school.

“No matter who you are or where you go you’re either going to be bullied or be the bully,” stated Ashley. “I’m obviously worried about that, but the CHAMPs seminars definitely help you deal with it. I know we still have a few years to go before school starts, but in these last few years I’ve really learned how to deal with it.”

Over 100 families attend these seminars every year, bringing together parents who can truly empathize and understand what the Ricketts and Bauer families are going through.

It’s a comfort that Ashley appreciates.

“It gives you the opportunity to talk to older kids and their families and how they deal with surgeries,” explained Ashley. “Then you see younger families where you can tell them that it’s okay, look at my son, look at how he’s doing. Your son or your daughter is going to go through the exact same thing.”

Rebecca echoed a similar statement.

“It’s nice to have people who understand because they’ve already gone through it,” she said. “In a sense, they’re a role model for you, and I can call for even little things, like Cooper is starting kindergarten; he needs to know how to tie his shoes. How do I show him how to do that with his hands? Just having someone to talk to and work through your fears with you is important.”

Ashley admits that one of her biggest concerns has always been that Xander will be left out. But seminars like this help to assuage those worries.

“I worry that he won’t be able to run and play with his friends who have two normal legs,” she confessed. “But you can talk to the teens who are there and they snowboard and play soccer and hockey so it’s really nice to know that he will be able to as well. Even if he doesn’t want to play sports, he can.”

“The worries obviously aren’t gone,” said Ashley, “every parent worries about their child no matter what and that will never go away, but it’s nice to know that he will be able to play sports.”

“The emotional support that the War Amps provides, not just for the champ, but for the family as a whole is really great,” added Rebecca. “It’s a wonderful program.”