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Wheelchair Gift Brings Child Joy

Mary Ann Riojas Wheelchair Fund established by CVS/Pharmacy in conjunction with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”

6/17/2009 

It was an early birthday present for an active little girl. Madison Moore, 5, took her brand new wheelchair for a spin Wednesday around the halls of The Rehabilitation Center at Children’s Hospital Central California just 11 days shy of her birthday.Sarah Moore pushes daughter Madison in new wheelchair

“It makes her so happy,” said Sarah Moore, Madison’s mother. “She’s never had a chair that fit her needs so for her to get one now it’s awesome.”

After years of using loaner wheelchairs, Madison was selected to benefit from the Mary Ann Riojas Wheelchair Fund established by CVS/Pharmacy in conjunction with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Riojas, a former employee of the Easter Seals Child Development Center at Children’s Hospital, is a mother of four who was born with no legs and one complete arm. The show partnered with De Young Properties to rebuild her Central Fresno home. During the January taping, the Moores, who are from Bakersfield, learned their daughter would receive a free wheelchair.

“We haven’t been able to afford a chair,” Moore said. “A big burden was lifted off our shoulders.” 

Benefitting from the Riojas wheelchair fund was especially meaningful since the Moores met Riojas more than five years ago during Madison’s extended stay at Children’s Hospital.

When Madison was 5 months old, she developed a form of meningitis called meningococcemia. She eventually went into septic shock, which led to the amputation of both legs and several fingers. Madison spent four months in The Rehabilitation Center. To keep the family together, the Moores enrolled their older son, Hunter, now 8, in the child development center.

“Mary Ann was the one who registered him,” Moore said. “I remember thinking if this woman can do it, I know Madison won’t have any issues.”

Madison received an extra light-weight Quickie wheelchair with a candy turquoise frame and wheels that light up in the front. It has a foam and gel seat cushion to prevent pressure sores and can adapt to prosthetics – or her “bendy legs” as she calls them – when she gets them.

“We definitely wanted something that was light weight and easy to get in and out of because the chair is an extension of her,” said Mike Alaniz, physical therapist. “She’s very active and needed something to support her activity level.”

Madison, who also has a 3-year-old brother, Logan, likes to play with dolls and ride “bikes” with her brothers. When the show aired in March, the Moores were struck by Madison and Riojas’ similar independent personalities.

“Madison doesn’t have an issue not asking for help,” Moore said. “She will push a chair and climb up and get it. My husband was crying, saying, ‘Oh my, they do a lot of the same things.’”

Madison, who starts first grade in the Fall, continues to see Dr. Peter Witt in the Plastic Surgery practice. Each time the family comes to the Hospital, they visit their “family” in The Rehabilitation Center.

“It’s been really nice to see her growing from a baby to a little lady,” Alaniz said.