We have now officially been fighting for a mobilised wheel chair for our daughter for two whole years. When Kaitlyn was 15 months we started questioning about a power chair as we knew that it could sometimes take several months to get our own chair. We figured that by the time that Kaitlyn was 20-22 months (2 years old maximum) she would have her power chair and she would learn to be mobile. Children diagnosed with conditions that do not allow them to walk should be given some form of mobility around the same age that they would "normally" be starting to walk. It has been shown and printed in articles that children as young as 18-19 months are old enough to learn how to drive a power chair!
We put Kaitlyn in a power chair at around 18 months, and although the chair was a mismatched set of parts she totally GOT how to make that chair move! The parts were borrowed from a local wheelchair dealer and our local hospital. We never could get the drive controls right as we didn't have proper seating. I'll try to explain. Imagine that Kaitlyn has less tone than a newborn baby and is weaker too! She needs full body support from the top of her head to the tip of her toes in order to maximize all the strength she can muster!! Without full body support she cannot use her limited movement to operate drive controls on a power chair.
After several "trials" with mismatched parts it became more and more obvious that Kaitlyn needed a proper chair (seating, hand/arm positioning, drive controls, chair functions!!!). Something that could provide her with the support she needs and the features that would make learning to drive possible! As Kaitlyn's condition is degenerative she has lost a LOT of function in two short years :( This has made our task even more challenging! As a result, upping the price of a power chair.
Kaitlyn's new power chair will have power seating functions (tilt, recline) as she will need to adjust her own chair for comfort! She will drive her chair with fibre optic switches as we could not convince our OT that Kaitlyn would be able to drive with a mini proportional joystick. She needs to be able to move a body part in all four quadrants (left, right, forward, backward). We were unable to demonstrate this with the type of mini-joystick provided for two trials! The good thing is that Kaitlyn's chair will be able to support different types of drive controls, so her chair will adapt to her needs down the road :) This chair will also come equipped with vent trays so that we can lug cough-assist, vent, suction, feed pump and oximeter wherever we go!!
Wheel chairs can often be funded through various funding programs. However, since Kaitlyn's chair requires such an elaborate set-up and sensitive controls the price tag is much higher than most chairs. We have managed to raise the majority of the cost of the chair with the help of our local children's hospital. The major funding support comes from PC Children's Charity in the sum of $20,000!!! To all of you who have supported the Superstore when they have their yearly Charity drives (when they ask us at the checkout if we would like to donate 1-2 dollars to their Children's Charity) I thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Now you know where that money goes!!! Right back into the community :)
We were told in January that we need to raise the remaining funds needed for Kaitlyn's chair. The Children's Charity funds must be used before the end of six months from the time it's awarded. We got an extension, but that still only gives us until mid-March! As such, this fundraiser means a great deal to us as it is our last chance to get Kaitlyn her wheels!!
My mother and sister have been organising this fundraiser. They are working tirelessly to make sure that this event is a success! They have decided to have the event in Annapolia Royal at the local Firehall. The date is the 21 st of February, 2010 starting at 1:00pm. They have arranged for local musicians:
Fender Benders - Country/Rock
Jacquelyn d'Eon - Fiddle
Matthew Stanton - Guitar/vocals
Cecile Martell - Guitar/vocals
We will also be auctioning off a few items, selling tickets on some items and a bake sale, among other surprises :)
Please come and join us for an afternoon of fun! Kaitlyn and I cannot attend the fundraiser in person, but we are hoping to be able to attend via Skype! We will be able to see everyone and everyone will see us through the web camera on my laptop :) If you cannot make the benefit and would like to make a donation you can mail it to "Kaitlyn Hatchard c/o Kathy Horton PO Box 316, Bridgetown NS, B0S1C0" Any check donations may be made payable to Tim or Kimberley Hatchard. "WE NOW HAVE A PAY PAL ACCOUNT!!" Just go to the link on the top right of this page :)