It has been 14 months since a car accident upended life at Wellington’s Chandler family. Life isn’t like before. Now, things are harder, and everyone knows it’s an uphill battle. But there is hope that things will come together; it’s what the family puts their faith in. Donald, Katie, Valerie and Camryn are moving beyond their expectations, grateful that they still have each other.
Valerie Chandler was a normal teenager, playing soccer and volleyball, riding her bike and skateboard. But everything changed in one moment, during a car accident on Southern Blvd. After more than a year of recovery, the family is assessing their needs. How can they make sure Valerie can thrive with her disability?
Soon to enter high school, Valerie is the oldest daughter of Katie and Donald. Her younger sister Camryn misses the way they used to be. She misses being able to do things with her big sister, who spends a majority of her time in therapy and at appointments at the doctor’s office, now that she is paralyzed and in a wheelchair.
The family has been in rental accommodations for the last year because their old home would not accommodate Valerie after the accident, so they sold it. But now they are ready to purchase a new house in Wellington that will accommodate their needs. Moving to a new area, away from their friends and support system in Wellington, would make things even harder. The family has been an integral part of the community, where both Donald and Katie volunteer as soccer and volleyball coaches, encouraging and mentoring the local kids.
To make their new home a reality, they are asking for the community’s help.
The lease is coming due at the apartment they are renting, and they haven’t found a property yet to purchase that fits their needs. They want an affordable home with a pool in Wellington. Valerie needs physical therapy in the water each day, keeping her strength and giving her an activity so she can have a break from her wheelchair.
The family would also need to complete a remodel to retrofit the property so that Valerie has the ease of growing through her high school years and into adulthood. They want to get the word out to homeowners thinking of selling or Realtors who know of a property that will accommodate their requirements. The property must be on one floor with four bedrooms and two or three bathrooms.
Once they find a reasonably priced home, they also want to find a connection with a local business or businesses to help them, as well as perhaps Wellington local Robert Van Winkle and his “Vanilla Ice Project” to help. They’re looking to get assistance to outfit the doorways so that they are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through, a kitchen easily accessible for Valerie and a bathroom that allows her to be independent.
The family would also like to find a vehicle that has a chair lift for Valerie, making it easier for her to get in and out of the car.
There are also the little things that Valerie used to do that she can no longer complete on her own, like picking up an object or retrieving something that dropped on the floor. So, a generous breeder from Wyoming has a puppy available with the condition that it needs to be trained to be Valerie’s service dog. They even have a local trainer willing to train the puppy, but it takes 12 to 18 months to train the dog, who will live with the trainer during this time, and the cost typically runs about $20,000.
To help raise money to support the family, a Gofundme page has been set up at www.gofundme.com/f/trqu3-spinal-surgery, and any amount that you can give will be helpful.
Valerie longs to have the simple things restored that allow her to complete her daily tasks. To make sure she does not develop osteoporosis, bad circulation and blood clots, besides making her lungs weak due to sitting and laying too long, it is important to provide Valerie with an active lifestyle. She is doing well with her therapy, works hard and doesn’t complain. But Valerie is still a child, who mentally and physically must adjust to this new life.
There are many fences to climb. The reality is that the family needs a village to help them thrive, and a world that cares to give a hand. Donald is working two jobs, while Katie is Valerie’s primary caregiver.
Spinal revision surgery is the ultimate goal for the family. But such a feat is expensive, as it is usually not covered by insurance and not easily available. Yet the family ponders the thought with anticipation that one day Valerie may have a chance to live her life more like it once was, standing, running, moving and dancing, but now, the simple things need addressing, like living day to day in a wheelchair.
If you have a home for sale that would work for the family, call Katie Chandler at (561) 628-1339. If you have a business that would be willing to help with modifications so the house can be retrofitted, please contact the family as well.
If you know of a vehicle that would allow Valerie to get around more safely, or you can offer a donation, think of the Chandlers right now and tell your friends and family about them. The Chandlers are a local Wellington family rebounding and building back from a crisis, in the middle of a pandemic. They appreciate your ongoing kindness. Learn more at www.gofundme.com/f/trqu3-spinal-surgery.
See the Chandler family in the video below: