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Variety Week: Wheelchair accessible van changes Penticton family’s life

Variety Week: Wheelchair accessible van changes Penticton family’s life
A Penticton family with life challenges is being supported by Variety the Children’s Charity. Penticton resident Ashley Aitchison said her five-year-old son, Remington, is non-verbal and can’t walk independently.

A deserving Penticton family has been given the gift of mobility — a wheelchair-accessible Sunshine Family Van by Variety the Children’s Charity.

Penticton resident Ashley Aitchison said her five-year-old son, Remington, is non-verbal and can’t walk independently.

“Remi has — he used to have up to 200 seizures a day and now has about 10 a day,” she said. “It is intense to see Remi go through that. It’s emotionally draining.”

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Remington lives with a host of challenges, including cerebral palsy, a severe seizure disorder, an intellectual disability and significant global developmental delay.

The charity provided Remington an adaptive walker and specialized bed in recent years.

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Remington inside his mom’s new Sunshine Family Van. But a major challenge that still faced the family was mobility. Ashley is a single parent who suffers from chronic back pain. Without a wheelchair accessible van, she was forced to lift Remi in and out of their minivan several times a day for various appointments.

Ashley said Remington becomes agitated and stressed when being transferred in and out of the wheelchair, and is prone to seizures in the vehicle.

Remington inside his mom’s new Sunshine Family Van.
Remington inside his mom’s new Sunshine Family Van. Global News

The charity determined Ashley and Remi qualified for a Sunshine Family Van—a fully accessible van funded by donations to the children’s charity.

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The big reveal was held on Wednesday afternoon at the OSNS Child Development Centre in Penticton following Remington’s behavioral interventionalist appointment.

Choking back tears, Ashley was overwhelmed to be handed the keys to the life-changing vehicle.

“Very, very happy. This is going to last us a long time and I just worried the more he weighed how it was going to work out for me,” she said.

The wheelchair-accessible Sunshine Family Van that was donated by Variety the Children’s Charity.
The wheelchair-accessible Sunshine Family Van that was donated by Variety the Children’s Charity. Global News

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Sidewinder Conversions and Mobility converted the vehicle into a wheelchair accessible one.

“It just gives them freedom. It’s such a great feeling to be able to give back,” said sales representative Rob Gosse.

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This is Global B.C.’s third annual Variety Week highlighting stories of children and families around B.C. who are supported by the charity.

Variety is able to help cover the costs for medical care and services, mobility equipment, specialized therapies and education support not covered by private or public health plans.

Grant associate Bonita Theron said donations are needed to help more children like Remi.

“There is still a great need for this. Remington’s family has been on a wait list for more than one year for this program so donations for this program is always needed,” she said.

Remington is the seventh van recipient under the program since the first Sunshine Family Van was presented at Variety’s 2016 Telethon.

Eligible families must have a net income of under $65,000,00 to qualify for the program.

To donate to help kids in B.C. through Variety, call 310-KIDS to give or donate online. You can also text KIDS to 45678 to make a $20 donation.