Disabled Okanagan girl needs community support; fundraiser planned for March

Click to play video: 'A severely disabled Okanagan girl needs community support'
A severely disabled Okanagan girl needs community support
An Okanagan family is hoping the public can help make life a bit easier for their severely disabled daughter. Getting the 8-year-old girl around is proving more challenging and as Klaudia Van Emmerik reports, her parents are hoping buying a specialized van will make the difference. – Feb 29, 2024

Mia Culbert was born four months premature and lives with a severe form of cerebral palsy.

“She has hearing loss, she is non-verbal,” said Teresa Kuypers, Mia’s mom. “She’s in a wheelchair, so she can’t sit or roll over or hold their head up or anything like that. So she’s fully dependent.”

The eight-year old travels to Vancouver at least four times a year undergoing assessments and a variety of procedures at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

“She has had many surgeries and procedures through her life,”Kuypers said.

Mia was born 4 months premature and lives with a severe form of Cerebral Palsy. Global News

But getting Mia around is getting more and more difficult.

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“As Mia gets older and gets bigger, it’s more challenging, ” said Aaron Culbert, Mia’s dad. “Currently we have an SUV where we have to carry Mia out of her chair, put her into her car seat, and we have to lift the chair into the back of the vehicle and then of course we have to do that process in reverse.”

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To make transportation easier, the family is hoping to purchase a wheelchair-accessible van.

“To have a configured van where we can, you know, she can just get rolled straight in there and she doesn’t have to get removed from her wheelchair, it would just make life much easier,” said Culbert. “Even more dignified.”

Mia has had more than half a dozen surgeries at B.C. Children’s Hospital throughout her young life. Contributed

But it’s not cheap with a price tag of $108,000.

“It covers the cost of the new van and the conversion,” Kuypers said. “So the conversion is putting in a ramp.  I think they lower the floor. They take out seats. It’s quite a process and just that part is about $55,000.”

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Click to play video: 'Toronto mother spends days in van to help child with accessibility'
Toronto mother spends days in van to help child with accessibility

To help cover the costs, the family is holding an upcoming fundraiser called Mia’s Ride.

“If we didn’t need a van for her, we wouldn’t be purchasing a new vehicle right now,” said Kuypers. “It’s above and beyond what our family can afford.”

The fundraiser is slated for Saturday, March 9 at Grizzli Winery in West Kelowna from 1:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Tickets are $35 and include a glass of wine, and the event will feature a silent auction and art sale.

Tickets can be purchased on the Mia’s Ride website, where donations can also be made.

“We’re just parents like anyone else and we’re just trying to do the best to advocate for our daughter and provide the best life that we can for her,” Culbert said.

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Click to play video: 'World Cerebral Palsy Day'
World Cerebral Palsy Day

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