PIQUA — For Sylvester Jones V, losing a limb doesn’t mean losing his sense of adventure.
Born with tibial hemimelia, a deficiency of the tibia with varying degrees of bone absence, the Piqua teen, the son of Sylvester Jones and Angela Reinke, had his first amputation surgery at the age of 13 months. Three months later, he was up and walking.
“He was missing his inside ankle joints altogether and the tibia in his left leg only had the middle portion of it,” Reinke explained. “It was the hardest decision of our lives to go with amputation instead of reconstruction, but he hasn’t let it stop him. He’s pretty much always willing to try anything.”
Now 13, with a below-the-knee prosthesis and several surgeries under his belt, Sylvester’s willingness to “try anything” includes playing basketball and swimming. Soon, he’ll be able to add zip lining to the list when he attends the Amputee Coalition’s Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp, which runs July 19-23 at Camp JOY in Clarksville.
“They have a zip line there and I’m really excited,” said Sylvester, who also enjoys science, playing video games, building things and spending time with his sister, Kelsey. “I’m not afraid of heights, so I’d love to go on it.”
Sylvester was granted a scholarship to attend the five-day camp, which also offers fishing, swimming, canoeing, basketball, archery and other activities. He’ll be with more than 100 other children ages 10-17 who have limb loss or limb difference, another aspect that makes the camp an appealing opportunity.
“I can’t wait to meet other amputees because I don’t really know any others, and to make some new friends,” said the upcoming Piqua Junior High eighth-grader.
The camp experience comes at a fortuitous time, as it’s the perfect chance for Sylvester to have some summer fun before his next surgery on Aug. 5.
“He’s going to have his leg amputated up further, so I’m hoping he gets a lot of enjoyment out of going to camp,” Reinke said.
Reinke said she learned about the camp through Sylvester’s prosthetic company and contacted the Amputee Coalition to learn more. The national, non-profit coalition covers all expenses for the campers — no small feat, as the average cost to send a child to camp is $1,800 — and has hosted nearly 800 campers from across the United States since 2000.
Incidentally, the prosthetic manufacturer’s name — Optimist Prosthetics — could very well describe Sylvester himself. Reinke characterized her son as a generally upbeat young man who always puts forth his best effort.
“He’s a great kid, and not just because he’s mine,” she said.
As for Sylvester, he gives credit to his parents for instilling him with courage and belief in his abilities. “I was always raised to think that I could do anything I wanted to if I put my mind to it,” he said.