03/21/2015 12:00 EDT | Updated 05/21/2015 05:59 EDT

War Amps' CHAMP graduate Rob Larman says program instilled pride in being an amputee

Rob Larman lost his right leg when he was 14-years-old after a friend dared him to jump on a slow moving freight train and he ended up under the wheels.

"I was going through the 'Why me?' and the pity stage and the anger, and this guy walked in and he said, 'Robbie, it's going to be okay. They'll put an artificial leg on you and you'll be fine.'"

"I looked at him and just ran up one side of him and down the other — 'How dare you!' and he just pulled up his pant leg and said, 'I'm with the War Amps'," Larman told The Early Edition.

That was in 1978 — and Larman became one of the early graduates of the War Amps' Child Amputee Program, which had just started in 1975.

In those 40 years, the program has helped nearly 20,000 children and their families overcome the challenges of losing a limb, covering everything from raising a child amputee, to dealing with teasing and staring, to seeing the latest developments in artificial limbs.

The program is funded through The War Amps charity, which runs primarily on donations.

"I saw younger children running around, having fun, coping with it, dealing with it," said Larman.

"It was about wearing your amputation as a badge of courage and that you had to be strong and maintain a positive outlook on life."

Larman re-learned to ride his bike, and got back into playing lacrosse.

He's stayed with the organization — now, he's the director of the War Amps' PLAYSAFE/DRIVESAFE program.

To hear the full interview with Rob Larman, click the audio labelled: War Amps' Child Amputee Program turns 40.