Eleven year-old Luca Luvera, has lived a dramatic past few years. Back in 2013, Luca was complaining that his right knee was sore. Initially diagnosed as growing pains, the discomfort continued to the point where he could no longer walk. Luca was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital, where scans revealed the presence of a tumour in his right thigh and a diagnosis of osteosarcoma was confirmed. Chemotherapy treatment began, but after four months the specialists advised the Luvera family that that Luca’s best chance to beat the cancer, was to have his leg amputated.

Luca’s response to the news was remarkable. He had met some amputees while in the Royal Children’s Hospital, so he knew he would recover and could be mobile. This inspired him. To give Luca maximum mobility, surgeons used a radical procedure that utilised Luca’s calf bone to reconstruct his thigh. Once he recovered from the operation, this procedure allowed Luca to be fitted with a prosthesis rather than be on crutches or in a wheelchair.

Luca was fitted with his first prosthetic leg just seven months after his surgical procedure. Walking was not enough for Luca; he wanted to know when he could return to AusKick and start playing football. Fortunately, he didn’t have to wait too long. After gaining clearance to play from his medical team and the football league in April 2016, Luca began playing in the Under 10’s for Avondale Heights. There were a number of challenges, including having his prosthetic leg break in his first game and also having to learn to kick with his left leg. This did not deter Luca in the slightest. In fact, it increased his resolve to work hard and focus on his dream. After his first season of football it became evident that Luca’s mobility would improve considerably if he had a prosthesis with a blade.

It was at this time that Luca’s mother Anna Luvera, heard about START Foundation and submitted an application for a grant. In June 2017, Anna received the call she had hoped for from START foundation, advising her that Luca’s application for a ‘blade’ had been successful. Luca’s reaction to the news was one of pure happiness and when his blade was fitted he said, “I love my new blade, can I wear it all the time?”

Luca is a huge Tigers fan and that same year he fulfilled a childhood dream of meeting his beloved club and many of his football idols, including Alex Rance, when he visited the Richmond Football Club. With Dustin Martin winning the 2017 Brownlow Medal, there was only one more thing that would cap off Luca’s year... to join in and sing the Tigerland song at the final siren at the 2017 AFL Grand Final. As things turned out, Luca’s team did win the Grand Final - Go Tigers!

Congratulations Luca on your courage and determination. We look forward to seeing you live your sporting dreams.