When I received Kalea’s diagnosis of cerebral palsy I looked it up on the internet and saw a child in a wheelchair. My world stopped. At three years old, Kalea had selective dorsal rhizotomy surgery and then the long rehab began – living in a hospital for six weeks before continuing day sessions. At the same time, we were choosing suitable schools and other activities to help her development. This created an enormous mental stress with so many life-changing decisions to be made and trying to look after all the family at the same time.
We were first introduced to Easter Seals Ontario when we were invited to Family Camp at Camp Merrywood. We learned we were not alone as every family had one thing in common – we all had a child with a disability. For one whole week, many of our daily challenges faded away as activities were completely accessible to ALL, and no one was left out because they had a disability. Seeing the way the children were included in absolutely every aspect of camp life brought tears to our eyes and taught us how we may be able to make our lives more accessible for Kalea. As Kalea got older, we began to learn even more about how far Easter Seals helps families. Equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs and more specialized items are extremely costly, and many families could not afford these items if not for the assistance of Easter Seals.
After a few years of attending Family Camp, Kalea wanted to attend camp independently. The friendships she developed at camp lasted throughout the school year with everyone counting down the days until the start of the next year at camp. Kalea’s wish is that every child gets to go to camp. We have personally seen the positive impact Easter Seals has had on not only our own family, but also on the families of the many friends that Kalea has made during her time at Easter Seals camps and events. Thank you to everyone who makes this possible for families like mine.
– Andy, Kalea’s dad