A family has launched a campaign to give an Arlesey toddler back her independence.
Minnie Ana Hendrie had been adapting well to her specialist wheelchair which helped her get around unaided.
But the chair was destroyed after a freak electrical fire in the family’s car last week, and mum Lauren has been told by the firm that supplied it that they will not replace it.
Now Lauren is fundraising for a new chair which can help get Minnie Ana back in the driving seat.
The three-year-old was born with a severe form of spina bifida and hydrocephalus among other medical complications, and so far has had six operations in her short life.
She is paralysed from the waist down and the specially adapted wheelchair had helped her to propel herself around and do the things an active toddler should do.
“You will never see this little darling without a smile on her face,” said Lauren.
“The most heartbreaking thing about it all is that when she received the wheelchair last year, January 2017, and when she first sat in it, it was perfect. It was like watching her walk for the first time, she straight away could self propel and I was overwhelmed.
“She had her freedom, her legs. Mummy got to see her “first steps”.”
Fundraisers in the community first helped the family buy a lightweight chair which she used from nine months old.
“She previously had a tiny wheelchair called a ZipZac which she used from nine months onwards; you lovely people donated enough for us to get it made and sent over all the way from Texas”, said Lauren after launching an appeal on the GoFundMe website.
“It’s truly amazing how generous people are, and we appreciate it so so much.
“Her zebra print youngster wheelchair from the NHS which she received when she was 2 years old, was also lightweight to wheel and she could get about like any other toddler as it was slimline, and she was fast.”
The adapted wheelchair was provided through the NHS by Steppingley Wheelchair Services but they have told Lauren they cannot provide a similar model again.
The mum of two, who is expecting a third child later this year, said the family couldn’t believe it when the car burst into flames outside their house. Her partner Geoffery managed to escape unharmed but the car and the wheelchair were destroyed.
“Luckily everyone was OK, but Minnie’s freedom has now been stripped from her,” she said.
“She had the ability to self propel, I have always said she will be in the paralympics and all this will do is slow her down.
“This is her independence, her life has been ripped from her. She used to get around like a normal toddler. It would be lovely for her to get her legs back so we can see her dancing and spinning again.
“I have also been told it is going to take up to 3 months for them to provide a different, and now heavyweight wheelchair that she will not have the strength to use. I want her to have independence, not reliance.”
A wheelchair to replace the one lost is £2,000 and Lauren, a full time carer, is appealing for support. She has already raised more than £1,000 from wellwishers.
“Once I have had my newborn son– a year from now – on Matrch 23, 2019 (as near as), I will do a skydive in honour of my little girl and the funds that have been raised”, she said.
“Anything I have left over will go to Shine Charity For Spina Bifida And Hydrocephalus.
“I am a big wimp and petrified of heights and seem to be down on my luck, but whatever happens – as long as my little girl has her freedom, I will be a happy mummy.”
> To find out more go to https://www.gofundme.com/wheelchair-for-minnie