It was a very memorable day for the Goss family as Melissa watched her 2-year-old son, Stellan, get the final fitting for his new wheelchair in The Rehabilitation Center at Children’s Hospital Central California.
“We have been looking forward to it for a long time,” said Goss of Squaw Valley. “It was exciting to see the final product after picking the color and the fabric, and hearing about all the various features.”
Stellan is one of the first patients 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 Gosses learned their son had been selected to receive a free wheelchair.
“We were in the process of getting an extra-support stroller before we found out we’d been given the chair,” said Goss, whose toddler has a seizure disorder. “Insurance and other agencies only pay for so much each year. This frees up funds for other equipment we may need.”
Valued at $6,000, Stellan’s new wheelchair is top of the line. The highly specialized chair was designed for his specific needs and should last up to five years. The sturdy seat helps him sit up straight and a clear, detachable tray holds toys and assists with feedings. The chair can also tilt back if Stellan would like to take a nap.
“Getting equipment authorized is a major process for many people,” said Peggy Nickel, a Children’s Hospital physical therapist who has worked with Stellan for the past two years. “I was thrilled that this company provided the money for patients to get their equipment because it shortens the wait… and we were able to get exactly what the patient needed.”
Prior to getting his new wheels on April 30, Stellan traveled in an umbrella stroller. It was close to the ground and lacked proper support. Now Stellan is eye level with children his age and more aware of his surroundings.
“We put him in the chair and it perked up his attitude to be in the action with us,” said Goss. “It’s much more comfortable than the average stroller.”
In addition to his physical and occupational therapy, pediatric subspecialists in the Neurosurgery and Neurology departments continue to treat Stellan.
“Everyone that we’ve worked with has been really wonderful,” said Goss. “We’re very excited and grateful for all of this.”