All-terrain wheelchair helps child live life to the fullest

Danette Dooley
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Cory and Becky Wiseman of Springdale love camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, swimming, travelling and hiking.
When they decided to become parents, the couple took for granted that their children would also have a passion for the outdoors.

Eight-year-old Elijah Wiseman enjoying his new hippocampe with his three-year-old sister, Clara, and his parents Cory and Becky.

That positive attitude turned to uncertainty when their first baby, Elijah, was born eight years ago with a rare disorder. Timothy syndrome affects many parts of the body including the heart, fingers and toes and the nervous system.

Their son requires total care, Becky said during a recent telephone interview.

“Elijah had a stroke at birth. He’s confined to a wheelchair, he is tube fed, he can’t speak and he’s visually impaired.”

Becky is originally from South Brook, while Cory is from Robert’s Arm.

The family was living in Ontario at the time of Ejijah’s birth. They moved to Springdale shortly after to be near family.

When Elijah was a baby, his disability had minimal impact on the couple’s life. They took him camping, swimming and snowshoeing. He was part of every vacation.

However, as their son grew from a baby to a young boy, the challenges also grew.

Flying became harder because of Elijah’s special needs. His wheelchair size also limited the type of rental vehicle that would accommodate the chair. The couple was also limited in what activities they could plan because of poor access with the wheelchair.

The Wisemans eventually bought a wheelchair van and did everything possible to plan their vacations and activities around activities accessible to their son.

“But even with the best laid plans, we continually came upon location after location that was considered wheelchair accessible only to realize the accessibility ended at the parking lot,” the couple wrote in a message to the Children’s Wish Foundation. (CWF)

“We have travelled to national park beaches where Elijah’s chair could only access a viewing area, but, being determined, we always managed to drag his chair through the sand to allow him full access to the beach like everyone else,” Cory said.

 

A wish comes true

While Elijah doesn’t speak, his mother said he has his own way to communicating with his family.

“He gives us different ques. He makes different sounds and breathes differently. He recognizes voices. He knows when his grandmother comes to visit.”

When Cory and Becky were told that Elijah was approved for a wish through the CWF they thought about what would give him the most enjoyment not only for the present time but also for years to come.

“We were looking at the hippocampe for years but it’s really pricey,” Becky said.

CWF presented the eight-year-old with the all-terrain wheelchair earlier this summer.

The chair, which comes with attachments to cover different terrain, can be used on hiking trails, beaches, snow-covered paths and other hard-to-manoeuvre surfaces.

Now, Elijah can join in parents and his three-year-old sister, Clara, on all outdoor activities.

The chair will allow the family to travel together in one vehicle and explore trails and beaches without having to leave Elijah at home.

“Oftentimes, we’d go somewhere and Clara would ask why we weren’t taking Elijah. That’s hard to explain to a three year old. Now, we can do things as a whole family,” Becky said.

Since getting the chair, Elijah has gone with his family to Shallow Bay in Gros Morne National Park.

“In previous years we had to carry Elijah down to the beach and then carry his wheelchair separately and just park him on one post until we left. This time we were able to walk the length of the beach and let Elijah feel the spray of the ocean surf and the smooth sand beneath his wheels,” Cory said. “That’s a unique feeling, when you are dealing with disability challenges every day.”

Brenda and Everett Butt of Sprindgale are CWF sub-chapter coordinators. It’s rewarding volunteer work, Brenda Butt said, but being part of Elijah’s wish was especially rewarding.

“Elijah is non-verbal and his family could've asked for anything but they asked for the chair so that he could be included in their family activities and outings,” she said.

Cory said his family is very grateful to the CWF for granting Elijah’s wish and for helping them enjoy the simple pleasures in life that most families take for granted.

“We can’t wait for winter to try out Elijah’s ski attachments for his chair. There’s no stopping us now,” he said.

Organizations: Wish Foundation

Geographic location: South Brook, Ontario, Springdale Shallow Bay Gros Morne National Park

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  • Cyndi
    August 28, 2014 - 17:57

    This wish couldn't have been granted to a more deserving loving family! I am so happy to see the pictures and watch the enjoyment of the whole family. So happy ....so so Happy...

  • Judy langdon
    August 28, 2014 - 16:42

    This is one of the most beautiful stories I've read in a long time, not because Elijah is my grandson but because he is a very special boy who has touched and blessed our lives beyond all our expectations. He may have a disability but yet he has so much ability. The ability to be who he is born to be is not an easy task and just like other children with exceptionalities these beautiful little ones have to endured so much just fit into our "normal' world. .So when a child such as Elijah, is granted a wish that will improve the quality of his life and also enhance the quality of life for his family, we all have reason to celebrate!! A big Thank You to The Children's Wish Foundation and to Brenda and Everett Butt for their hard work and dedication to this amazing cause. God Bless ALL of our children!! Thank You, Judy Langdon.