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. . . a set of wheels, the love and support of both family and strangers, and the ability to overcome difficulties. This is a story of a baby and a dog and the people who love them!
What Are the Chances?
Trisha and Joe Priest met in college. They fell in love, married, and had three children. When their fourth child was born, they were given surprising news. They found out that they both carried a rare gene. In fact, it had been a one in a million chance that either of them would meet and marry another person who carried that gene. And then there was a one in four chance that a child of theirs would get the combination of both those genes and the physical challenges associated with it.
Lorelai Priest was their fourth child, and she got the gene. She was born with a muscular myelopathy caused by that genetic mutation. Lorelai wasn’t breathing or moving at birth and needed to be airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital, where she got excellent and lifesaving care. She was treated there for a full month before she could go home.
Now 18 months old, Lorelai’s condition has improved with each day since, but she still has extremely limited muscular control. Lorelai was given a Bella’s Bumbas chair last month to help her get around, after Trisha heard about the special chairs through Lorelai’s physical therapist.
Bella’s Bumbas Chairs Freely Given
A couple in New York, Rebecca Orr and Marty Parzynski, makes the Bella’s Bumbas chairs. They donate themfree of charge to children who suffer from spina bifida or conditions like Lorelai’s. This can be vital to their development.
Traditional wheelchairs are generally not covered by insurance for very young children, because they grow out of the chairs too quickly. The Bella’s Bumbas chair enables children who might otherwise be immobile to have a mobility device that can enhance the development of their hand-eye coordination and socialization skills.
Lorelai is fortunate to have doting parents and three loving siblings, Libby (10), Joseph (7), and Joyce (4). Two pet cats round out the family.
After Lorelai was born, Trisha began homeschooling the older children, to minimize the amount of time she needed to get them to/from school. Caring for Lorelai requires constant vigilance. There is extra care needed for everyday activities. In addition, Lorelai needs frequent intervention to help her breathe, a function which is sometimes hampered by her muscular response.
But in this family, there is nothing but gratitude. Joe, a policeman with both the Berlin and Littleton Police Departments, looks adoringly at his family and says,
“I don’t know what I did right in my life, but I’m glad I did it.”
Weekly physical, occupational, pool, and speech therapy sessions continue to help Lorelai build muscular coordination and strength. The Bella’s Bumbas chair will ultimately give Lorelai a greater sense of freedom and independence.
Her parents modified the chair a bit by adding a head support to accommodate Lorelai’s specific needs. She has been gradually learning how to make the chair move by rolling the wheels with her hands.
Dog in Wheelchair Meets Baby in Bumbas!
Oscar is an 11-year-old Beagle/Pekingese mix who was recently given up by his owner, and then adopted by Walkin’ Pets by HandicappedPets.com employee, Laura Webber. Oscar has mobility challenges too, and gets around with the help of a Walkin’ Wheelsdog wheelchair.
Walkin’ Pets produces the Walkin’ Wheels for dogs, and also donates the wheels it uses (through its subsidiary company, Small Tires & Wheels) for its wheelchairs to Bella’s Bumbas for their chairs. Walkin’ Pets wanted to personally meet a family who had received one of the chairs, and thought it would be fun for a child using the chair to meet a dog using a dog wheelchair. So Oscar and Laura made a visit to Lorelai’s family!
The video below shows Lorelai and Oscar meeting each other. In this world full of so much wrongdoing and tragedy, it was good to see a little girl, a dog, and the people who care for them, rising to challenges — aided by the love and generosity of both family and strangers.