Kacie Hodges

Submitted photo

Kacie Hodges, 12, shows off her new high-rise wheelchair.

By BRIANA BARKER

Kacie Hodges’ insurance denied her claim for a new wheelchair. Having been born prematurely, weighing 1.8 pounds, and then being diagnosed with cerebal palsy at 16 months, Kacie has used a wheelchair her entire life.

Thanks to the Donna Sink Pediatric Fund, Kacie’s family was able to purchase the now 12-year-old a new high rise wheelchair. Kacie’s mother, Deanna Hodges, said the new chair helps Kacie go from a sitting position and rise to a higher level. It also includes an LED light kit with signals so if she is in the dark, she can be seen.

It wasn’t the first time the Donna Sink Pediatric Fund came to her family’s aid.

“In the past they helped buy an adaptive tricycle where they strapped her in, and she could ride a tricycle just like any other child,” Hodges said. “It has brought out Kacie’s independence. The tricycle has made her feel like she is a normal child even though she has developmental issues and is unable to walk. We try to give her the life she deserves. She shouldn’t be cheated out of life.”

The new wheelchair has enabled Kacie to attend events such as a Girl Scouts camp where she was able to participate in activities such as hiking, kayaking, tubing, learning the fundamentals of backpacking and a creek investigation, Hodges said.

Donna Sink Pediatric Fund has followed Kacie’s progress since she was 5 years old. Denny Robey, a principal of Donna Sink Pediatric Fund, said Kacie has even helped at fundraising events such as performing a wheelchair dance with others during the annual concert.

The fund is in memory of a former teacher assistant at Sontag Elementary, Donna Sink.

“She had this genuine affinity for kids in need; it didn’t matter who the child was, what the child’s circumstance was, what the child’s behavior was, I could put that child with Donna, and they would do OK,” Robey said.

In 2005, after Sink died, Robey and a group of teachers at Sontag wanted to do something to honor their friend. They partnered with Sink’s daughters and Donna Sink Pediatric Fund was born. Since then, it has donated $75,000 to Franklin County families with children who have significant medical needs.

Barb Cheney said the fund saved her son’s life. Jordan, now 20, has struggled with kidney disease since he was 4 years old. He underwent a transplant then also sustained a brain injury. In 2013 he became sick again and tests showed the medication he had been taking had become toxic. Doctors told the Cheneys, half of Jordan’s kidney was dead, and the remaining half was diseased.

Treatment required a 5.5-hour drive every six weeks to receive antibodies. The cost was tremendous. DSPF learned of the Cheney’s challenges and helped supply the family with gas cards, hotel costs (when the Ronald McDonald house wasn’t available) and support.

“They have been the greatest blessing, and they have been amazing to us,” Cheney said.

She added DSPF’s assistance goes beyond monetary help.

“They have really kept him encouraged,” she said. “These kids lose something other kids keep a little longer. They lose their safety bubble.”

DSPF is sustained by two main fundraising events: an annual concert in the winter and a golf outing each summer. The annual golf outing is Aug. 17 at Mariners Landing in Huddleston.

DSPF currently is searching for sponsors and foursomes to participate. The cost for a team of four is $240 and includes meals and a golf cart rental. The tournament will tee off at 1 p.m.

For more information on the golf tournament, call Mandi Young at 493-9792 or Jennifer David at 263-0019.

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