Kelsey’s Story

Kelsey Jane was born early at 28 weeks, a 2 lb 11 oz bundle of determination and stubbornness. She fought every day to gain a little weight and a little independence from the machines and tubes that helped her survive her early entry into this world. When we brought her home we were sure that most of her troubles were behind her and she would continue to thrive and grow. At her 6 month preemie check up we asked the doctors why her legs seemed to be less active that what we remembered her brotherJordan’s to be at that age. We soon discovered that she had been born with Spina Bifida but that it hadn’t been detected due to her small size at birth and the various other issues that preemies are born with.

We began gathering information on her birth defect and we were told that she would probably never walk; but   apparently Kelsey, Dr Penny and the VTRA weren’t listening too well to that train of thought. Kelsey had a number of surgeries and procedures geared at making her life more comfortable and she went off to preschool at 3 and school at 5 years of age. When she began at Sangster Elementary we were informed that she could take part in horse back riding as part of her P.E.   Her dad and I thought it was a great idea as we were always looking for things that Kelsey might be able to do, and that list did seem to be limited.

What we didn’t know is that what she would gain from what we thought would be just a fun activity would literally change her life.

For two years she rode the bus with her school aide Sandra to the VTRA and rode Lilly and Princess (Lilly was her favorite, don’t tell Princess) and her dad and I thought that she was enjoying a nice activity. What we didn’t know was that all the while her handlers, side walkers and Stella were developing her muscles and balance to a point where Dr Penny, her orthopedic surgeon, decided that he could do something about getting Kelsey upright. In the fall of 2007 she had some more surgery and Kelsey took her first steps in a walker in early 2008.  

Just after that she went back to riding with the VTRA and Lilly and has been there ever since. Not only did the riding enable Kelsey to get to the point where surgery would make a difference it has also increased her self-confidence and self esteem. She is the only child in her class that rides a horse and knows the lingo and for a child who gets left out of a lot of things this is something that she alone can do and be proud of. Kelsey has had many volunteers help her as horse handlers and side walkers over the last 4 years and every one of them Kelsey has considered a friend. Some have even exchanged phone numbers and have kept in touch with her.

The VTRA not only does wonders for a child’s physical needs but also enriches their lives through friendship, encouragement and a sense of belonging to a wonderful organization. We cannot thank Stella and the VTRA enough for what they accomplished with Kelsey and we hope that the future brings more good things for everyone.

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