Now he’s going places

Danette Dooley
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Durable all-terrain wheelchair gives eight-year-old greater access to his world

Cory and Becky Wiseman of Springdale love camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, swimming, travelling and hiking.

Elijah Wiseman, 8, enjoys his new Hippocampe wheelchair with his three-year-old sister, Clara, and his parents Cory and Becky Wiseman.

When they decided to become parents, they assumed their children would share their passion for the outdoors.

But when their first child, Elijah, was born eight years ago, he had a rare disorder. Timothy syndrome affects many parts of the body, including the heart, fingers and toes, and the nervous system.

Elijah requires total care.

“Elijah had a stroke at birth,” Becky explained. “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.

They were living in Ontario when Elijah was born, and moved to Springdale shortly after to be near family.

When Elijah was a baby, his disability had minimal impact on their lives. They took him camping, swimming and snowshoeing. But as he grew, so did the family’s challenges.

Plane travel became more difficult because of Elijah’s special needs. The size of his wheelchair limited the type of rental vehicle they could use and the places they could go.

The Wisemans eventually bought a wheelchair van and did everything possible to plan activities that were 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.

“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.

While Elijah can’t speak, his mother said he has his own way of communicating.

“He gives us different cues. 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 Children’s Wish Foundation, they thought about what would give him the most enjoyment.

“We were looking at the Hippocampe (all-terrain wheelchair) for years, but it’s really pricey,” Becky said.

One online shopping site was offering the Hippocampe for roughly $5,000.

Thanks to the Children’s Wish Foundation, Elijah was given the all-terrain wheelchair earlier this summer.

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

Now, Elijah can join his parents and his three-year-old sister, Clara, for many outdoor activities.

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

Since he got the chair, Elijah has visited Shallow Bay in Gros Morne National Park with his family.

“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,” Cory said.

“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. That’s a unique feeling, when you are dealing with disability challenges every day.”

Brenda and Everett Butt of Springdale are sub-chapter co-ordinators of the Children’s Wish Foundation. It’s rewarding volunteer work, Brenda said, but helping to grant 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 grateful to the Children’s Wish Foundation for granting Elijah’s wish and helping them enjoy the simple pleasures in life that many 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.

The Nor’wester

Organizations: Wish Foundation, Hippocampe

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

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