2009 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador
Eleven year-old Kaitland Clapp swims, plays soccer and likes sailing. She is also a great singer and is learning to play the alto saxophone in school. Her younger sister, Madison, 4, has been known to complain about the noise when Kaitland practices the sax. It is hard to believe that this is the same child who was called ‘the miracle baby’ by the doctor when she was born.
Kaitland was born premature with a number of health issues, which meant countless visits to doctors, specialists and therapists. Kaitland learned to walk at the age of two, but had to wear a hockey helmet because she was having severe falls. At age four she had an operation that involved severing her left leg and rotating it, so that she could walk without tripping herself. She still feels quite a bit of pain in her legs during growth spurts. Kaitland has also had a spinal tap operation and continues to experience seizures, which doctors can’t completely explain the reason for.
Tammy Konning, Kaitland’s mom, tells how her daughter used to say, “Mom, why am I different? Why me, mommy?”
Mom’s response was always, “Because you can handle it.”
And handling it she does, at every opportunity. Kaitland only uses a wheelchair for long distances and is confident running on the soccer field with her leg braces. She has had the opportunity to water ski and go tubing at a friend’s cottage and learned how to sail at an Easter Seals Regatta event in Picton. This summer she hopes she will have the chance to attend Easter Seals Camp Merrywood near Perth, Ontario.
“I’ve never been to camp and I’d like the chance to go sailing again. You don’t need your legs to do it, so you can just relax and be like everyone else,” said Kaitland.
Kaitland has a couple of ideas for future career plans. She would like to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a kindergarten teacher for ”little kids”. Like her fellow Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador, Casey, Kaitland is also thinking of becoming a paramedic because “it would be cool to help people.”
As the 2009 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador, Kaitland wants to tell other kids with physical disabilities to “keep trying and you will succeed.”
2009 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador
Casey MacKay is a young man who strives to help others at every opportunity. This 12-year-old helps out at his school in the office and in the classroom, and plans to continue work of this nature in the future. Casey’s career goal is to be a paramedic.
“I really want to help people. I picture myself saving people who are hurt by getting down to their level and helping them up,” said Casey, who wears leg braces for walking and uses a wheelchair for distances.
As the 2009 Provincial Easter Seals Ambassador, Casey wants to tell people how Easter Seals really does help kids with physical disabilities succeed. “A lot of kids don’t even have wheelchairs. They need to get around even if they can’t walk. Without this we’d be glued to one spot. We’d miss all the fun in this world.”
Casey has a great support network that includes his dad, mom, older brother Adam, and friends. For three years now, he has played hockey for the Mississauga Crusaders and looks like any other hockey player in full equipment, with regular skates and stick. When Casey started playing hockey he had his hockey stick taped to his walker. Now he’s out on the ice without the walker, just some assistance from his dad. Casey’s brother, Adam, is also on the ice every week volunteering by helping other kids on the team.
Casey is a big Leafs fan and has attended the Maple Leafs Skate for Easter Seals Kids event at Air Canada Centre for the past six years. His favourite Leafs player was Boyd Deveraux (because he liked the sound of his name), but Casey proudly wears his # 60 jersey for his best buddy Carlton the Bear, mascot for the Leafs.
Casey has had the opportunity to attend fully accessible Easter Seals Camp Woodeden and welcomed the chance to challenge himself by playing sledge hockey and learning archery.
When asked about what he looks forward to as one of the 2009 Provincial Ambassadors, Casey replies, “I like busy days and meeting new people.” He has already met quite a few: Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Maple Leafs players, and Loonette the clown, who interviewed Casey on CBC television during the Easter Seals Telethon.