A TWENTY-kilometre walk to remember was the inspiration for Attadale teenager Fletcher Houston when he decided to raise funds for PlusLife, the organisation that helped to save the arm of his childhood friend.
Diagnosed with bone cancer at nine years of age, Harry O’Neill underwent an 18-hour procedure to replace his humerus with a donor, saving his arm from amputation.
“I mainly remember the overall shock, not knowing what it was, but realising it wasn’t good,” Harry said.
Harry can now only move his left arm in a certain way, not being able to raise it higher than 90 degrees.
A former competitive swimmer and water polo player, he had to resign his sporting hopes to recreation only.
“When I was a kid I wanted to be a surf lifesaver, but I can’t do that now,” he said.
Attending Attadale Primary School together and sharing classes, Fletcher witnessed Harry’s experience.
Thanks to a personal project at Scotch College, Fletcher saw an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for PlusLife, Western Australia’s vital bone and tissue donation service that is on the brink of closure.
The idea of a charity walk came to him at the end of last year, Fletcher planning his project continuously since.
He walked from Elizabeth Quay to Fremantle on May 1, wearing orange to represent the PlusLife organisation.
“I can hardly remember the middle (of the walk), you just zone out,” Fletcher said.
“I felt it the next day.”
Friends and family including Harry joined him on the walk, Fletcher saying he did not expect the level of support.
Fletcher raised roughly $1400 for PlusLife and would happily do more events in the future.
Both Harry and Fletcher encouraged awareness of the organisation for the great work they do for people such as Harry.
PlusLife Managing Director Anne Cowie praised Fletcher’s drive.
“I applaud Fletcher’s endeavour and tenacity to help raise awareness for the work we do at PlusLife,” Mrs Cowie said.
“This is a young boy who has come to know the importance of PlusLife and bone and tissue donation, because without it the prognosis for his mate could have been very different.
“The sad reality is that without this funding we will be unable to continue to help people like Harry in the future.”