Category Archives: Stories

Southwest Airlines Helps Special Needs Teen Celebrate Her 18th Birthday

By Alexa Renee

cerebral palsy

A Roseville teen celebrated a milestone birthday in high fashion, with a little help from Southwest Airlines.

Kellisa Kain spent an entire day flying around the country with her family to celebrate her 18th birthday. Kellisa’s father, Chris Kain, is a frequent flyer with Southwest and decided to plan a special day for his daughter, who loves to travel, according to Kellisa’s blog.

Kellisa and her twin had Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS), a disease which affects identical twins who share a placenta, where one twin is taking more than their share of nutrients and the other is unable to develop or survive.

Kellisa’s twin sister, Kirsten, died shortly after being delivered. Kellisa was given only hours to live but against all odds, was able to celebrate her 18th birthday on May 23. Today, she lives with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, but that doesn’t keep her from enjoying life.

Chris linked up with the airline company to plan Kellisa’s birthday travels. The day included eight stops, since her favorite part of plane rides is take-off and landing. During each flight, Kellisa was greeted by Southwest staff and passengers who all pitched in to take selfies with her and sing her “Happy Birthday.” The teen also received high-fives, cards and gifts.

Much to the family’s surprise, during a stop in Orlando, the family was escorted off the plane by a man wearing a tuxedo and were greeted with a fully decorated gate area filled with cheering travelers, according to Kellisa’s blog.

They boarded the plane to find a decorated area, and saw people holding birthday signs on the runway as they made their way back home to the Sacramento International Airport.

The family landed, literally running to a finish line, for the last flight of the day. Lisa, Kellisa’s mother, expressed the significance of her daughter’s milestone birthday in a blog post:

“Eighteen years is a very big deal for her and for us especially considering she is the only one of our natural children that has celebrated a birthday. In general, we keep a pretty positive outlook, but it can be difficult. Over the last 5 years, we have lost 5 of Kellisa’s friends to their disabilities including 1 that passed earlier this month. So we do get a bit emotional and over the top with Kellisa’s birthday because it is a reminder of how lucky we are to have her in our lives.”

College Staff Help Cerebral Palsy Student Complete Marathon

By Samantha Lauren King

Two members of National Star college staff helped a student realize her dream of completing a marathon by pushing her 26 miles in an all-terrain wheelchair.
Bethan Griffiths, a 22-year-old student at the college who has cerebral palsy, wanted to complete the Brighton marathon in memory of her mum Amanda, who died last year of motor neurone disease.

Her cause resonated with college staff, Becky Amor and Andy Woolway, who have both had close family members affected by the disease.

The team of two took turns pushing a £5,000 wheelchair loaned to them especially for the marathon – with Bethan crossing the finish line on foot.

Becky, who is a physiotherapy assistant at National Star, has run 19 marathons since 2012 but admitted running with a wheelchair made this her most challenging.

Bethan has now raised more than £900 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association through the marathon. Speaking of her experience, she said: “Being a part of a marathon is always something that I’ve dreamt of doing but never thought I’d get to do.

“I mentioned it to Becky during a physiotherapy session at National Star. Becky didn’t say I couldn’t do it. Instead she said she would figure out a way we could.”

Australian Girl with Cerebral Palsy Takes Her Dream to New Heights in China

By Xiong Maoling
Via XinhuaNet

Supported by a walking aid and wrapped in a raincoat, Taylor Walker-Lear took another break during her hike on the Great Wall and peered at the amazing view through one of its dented parts.
“Is it worth it?” Taylor’s mother Toni Elford asked her. “Yeah, it is,” Taylor replied without hesitation.

For this 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, June 6 was the day she had been eagerly looking forward to for more than a year. In March 2016, Taylor and her family climbed to the summit of the highest mountain in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko. When her mother asked about her next goal, she said: “Mount Everest might be a little too hard right now, but maybe the Great Wall.”

On Tuesday, with the help of her walking aid, the support of her parents and sponsor, and accompanied by a group of primary school volunteers from Beijing, Taylor realized her Chinese dream by successfully climbing the Mutianyu Great Wall despite the rainy and chilly weather.

Walking on the wall might sound like an easy feat for some, but for Taylor, it’s much more difficult. Step by step, she moved forward slowly yet steadily, with incredible strength and determination for a girl of her age and condition. Whenever she encountered steep stairs, her parents lifted her and held her, encouraging her to keep going.

A Little Aussie Girl’s Chinese Dream

Taylor’s journey started near Watch Tower No. 14, somewhere in the middle of the Mutianyu Great Wall, a part that was built by General Xu Da in the early Ming Dynasty, more than 600 years ago. It was mainly used for military defense.

During her short stay in the dim and cramped tower, Taylor attentively listened to the guide, trying to learn more about the profound history of the Great Wall. From a little window, Taylor popped out her head to take in the magnificent view.

“It’s different than I expected, different in a good way,” Taylor told Xinhua. “It’s amazingly beautiful.”

There is something about China that attracts Taylor, even though she can’t exactly say what it is. “It’s a magical appeal,” Taylor’s father Simon said.



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