Melissa Noonan: Limbs 4 Life
How Melissa’s trauma inspired her to help others
Melissa Noonan came up with the idea for Limbs 4 Life soon after losing her right leg above the knee in an accident.
She was undergoing rehabilitation and was feeling isolated and worried.
“I couldn’t believe how many amputees there were in rebab and I couldn’t understand how in a country such as ours information and support didn’t exist,” she says.
It was only a chance meeting with another amputee that provided her with some guidance and comfort. “It was just amazing to share my fears and concerns with him and ask all the questions I had.”
One year later, Melissa founded Limbs 4 Life.
Volunteers who have lost limbs provide one-on-one support to children and adults who have lost limbs through an accident or illness or who were born with limb differences.
There are also social activities and web-based information.
Melissa’s unflagging efforts include visits to schools and community groups to share her story and raise awareness.
She is determined to help prevent future amputations by encouraging prevention, such as foot-health checks for older people and those at risk because of diabetes.
Initially, Melissa balanced Limbs 4 Life with her paid work. But a small seed grant eventually enabled her to become a paid executive officer — albeit with a significant drop in salary.
Limbs 4 Life responds to 2000 calls a year and around 150 people who have lost limbs have been trained to provide support.
It’s a testament to Melissa’s dedication that she has been recognised with three previous awards, including a Pride of Australia Medal for Courage.
She says it is an absolute thrill to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.
Limbs 4 Life will use its $10,000 Westfield grant to help increase its volunteer workforce and to print information kits.
“It will help cover our volunteer insurance, which is quite costly,” says Melissa.