Charlie Jefferson, a Second World War amputee veteran and Isla McCallum, a member of The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program.
Photo Courtesy of WarAmps.

Isla McCallum, eight, is an energetic young girl with a big smile. Charlie Jefferson, 98, is a veteran of the Second World War. It is hard to imagine that the two have something in common, but they do: they are both amputees.

Jefferson served as a Lieutenant with the Queen’s Own Rifles Regiment. He was injured by an anti-personnel mine explosion in the Rhine Valley, Germany in 1945. The injury resulted in the loss of his left leg below the knee.

When he returned home, Jefferson joined The War Amps, an organization started by First World War amputee veterans to help each other adapt to their new reality. Years later, these veterans established the Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program. CHAMP provides young amputees, like Isla, who was born a left arm amputee, with financial assistance for artificial limbs and peer support.

Isla and her family first heard about Jefferson through War Amps. With Remembrance Day coming up, they arranged to visit him at his Ottawa residence.

Isla looked forward to the visit and was interested in learning about the medals Jefferson earned for his service, and that he too was missing a limb. Isla described Jefferson as a role model who made her feel proud to be an amputee.

Isla’s mom, Jamie, says it is important that her daughter understands the sacrifices that many Canadians made for our freedom. “Mr. Jefferson and others risked their lives so that we could live in a better world.”

The War Amps “Operation Legacy,” program helps young amputees across the country like Isla pay tribute to the veteran members of the Association who laid the foundation for programs that continue to make a difference in the lives of amputees today.

“Because of their work, child amputees have the tools and resources they need to be active, independent, and confident,” says Jamie.

It is also beneficial to veterans like Jefferson because they can take comfort in knowing that Isla and other “champs” will continue spreading the message of remembrance, even when he no longer can.

“[Veterans] passed this legacy to younger amputees,” says Jamie, “and now it’s their turn to share these stories so that the sacrifices of veterans and all those who served are never forgotten. It’s a wonderful legacy!”