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Variety offers a helping hand to Delta family
Dean McLure opens the back of the family van and with the flick of a button the hydraulic wheelchair lift extends out and down so that his 13-year-old son Rylan can get on board.
It’s a small improvement in the daily routine for this Delta family, but it makes a huge difference in the quality of life for all involved.
Rylan has cerebral palsy for which he recently underwent spinal surgery, and requires the use of a wheelchair for mobility. Although that’s covered by the provincial government, the wheelchair lift was not.
It was only through the support of Variety Children’s Charity that the McLures received the money they needed to retrofit the van.
“They kind of give us the freedom to be able to get the kids out where they need to be for appointments, but also just to get out into the community,” says Dean. “Go for walks and just out with the daily activities that typical kids would have.”
Dean’s wife, Fiona, nods.
“The van’s great for that because I find now it’s easy for me,” she says. “Before I found that I was lifting both kids into the van, then I was lifting his wheelchair in and every time we went some place we were loading everything in and out.”
Her daughter Kiarra, who is 15, is also special needs. She has Down syndrome and a seizure disorder which made the McLures fearful she would fall out of bed at night and hurt herself. Variety helped purchase a $6,000 containment bed that offers the family peace of mind when they settle down for the night.
“Normally you just have a bed for your kids,” says Fiona. “She’s able to crawl all around our house but she doesn’t have a lot of safety skills so she would just fall out of the bed and we wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because she’d be all over the house.”
Because their kids have significant medical needs they receive provincial government support through the at-home program, which covers Rylan’s wheelchair and other necessities. While Fiona says their medical requirements are met well by the government, quality of life is improved through things like Kiarra’s bed and Rylan’s wheelchair lift.
Dean says families like theirs often need to reach out to various charities like Variety to meet their non-essential needs.
The medical equipment Variety has helped purchase is so expensive that it would be prohibitive for many families without a charitable organization to assist, he adds.
The McLures also received special tricycles from Variety which are designed for older, special needs children.
“It’s almost like the extra stuff, their bikes are just for entertainment, they’re not a medical need but they’re kind of a physical and fun thing,” says Dean.
The family intends to pay it forward, too. They will donate their tricycles to another family in need when their own children no longer use them.
Dean says Variety’s application process isn’t onerous on families either. They usually fill out a few forms, acquire a doctor’s note indicating the child has a special need, and receive an answer from the charity in a few weeks.
“If you want to give to families who have special needs, Variety is fantastic. They are definitely helping.”
It’s not just equipment that the McLures have acquired through the charity. Six years ago they received their Labrador Retriever, Ruby, after the dog had undergone nine months of training Pacific Assistance Dogs Society. Although she was too skittish to be an assistance dog, she’s become a member of the family.
“She’s just Rylan’s best buddy,” says Fiona. “She lies at his feet all the time.”
Variety also has networking events for parents, such as the Boat for Hope, a summer picnic, and a Christmas party.
The McLures have attended the annual Boat for Hope event at the Vancouver Yacht Club, which offers children the chance to be pirates for the day on boats donated for use by their owners.
And by contributing $25,000 to purchase three wheelchair tandem bicycles through the Reach Child and Youth Development Society, any family with special needs children can go and borrow the bike for use on vacation.
“We’ve taken them to Whistler and camping and had lots of fun with them,” says Dean.
Variety the Children’s Charity is hosting their 48th annual Show of Hearts Telethon on Jan. 25 and 26 on GlobalTV. Tune in to watch entertainers such as Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Canada’s own Cirque Du Soleil, as well as stories about the charity helps families like the McLures.
Visit variety.bc.ca for complete program information.