The seven-year-old daughter of Jeanine and Barry McDonald of St. John’s has a multitude of health issues that include cerebral palsy, epilepsy and autism.
And even though she uses a wheelchair, don’t you dare tell her or her parents that she is different.
Claire doesn’t even know she is different, as her mother explained in a story that came home from school recently.
“The children were taking part in gym class at Larkhall, where Claire is in Grade 2. The teacher had the students doing some running. Claire uses a walker, so when the teacher said go, she dropped the walker and tried to run,” Jeanine said.
“She fell to the ground, prompting the teacher to call us and tell us what happened out of concern. I laughed and I cried at the same time. That’s just so Claire, to try and be like the other kids.”
Jeanine and Barry both raved about the care and attention Claire is receiving this year at Larkhall, calling it her best school experience to date.
She credits the teaching staff for doing exceptional work accommodating students with special needs for her success.
For the past five years her parents have co-ordinated a craft fair at Easter Seals House on Mount Scio Road in St. John’s.
The event, which allows vendors from around this region to pitch their wares to the public, also serves as a means of bringing together families who have children suffering from these afflictions and other diseases.
“This is a community that we have created here,” Jeanine said Monday.
“Claire is an inspiration to other people and through her event, the Claire’s Community Fair, families can get support from each of us that maybe they couldn’t before.”
The Easter Seals building is the only one in the city that is fully accessible, making it the best spot to host the fair, and through its great success, Jeanine fears she may need to look at a bigger space in order to garner as much help as possible for organizations and individuals that require help.
“It’s time for people to see what Easter Seals does here and at the same time share Claire’s life, her story. We don’t just share the good, we share the bad, as that is the reality we live with every day,” Barry said.
“This is not a craft fair anymore. It’s a big family event because all of these people have become like family to us.”
An example of this happened recently when Claire was spending time in the Janeway Children’s Hospital in St. John’s. Some of the vendors dropped by to see her, and others dropped off food at the hospital.
“This gives people an idea of what they are supporting. We want people to be involved because we have created a community of people, not just cerebral palsy people, but all people.”
The 5th annual Claire’s Community Fair will be held Oct. 14-15 at Easter Seals House.
Approximately 50 local vendors will participate, and back by popular demand will be Mudder’s Kitchen, which will be open throughout the two days.
In addition, there are hundreds of prizes to be won daily.
Admission is $2 and it is free for children under 12.
To date, the fair has generated more than $20,000 in support of Easter Seals.