Valdosta Daily Times

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December 11, 2012

Woman needs wheelchair

VALDOSTA — Kendra White has faced many challenges.

At the age of 16, she suffered a spinal injury. Her husband serves the country at Moody Air Force Base. Now, she needs an ultra-lightweight wheelchair for better maneuverability.

Alan Carter of Brain Injury Advocate Services of Georgia is working to get White the ultra-lightweight wheelchair. The Valdosta-based BIAS works with people suffering from either brain or spinal injuries.

White’s experience began several years ago.

“I sustained a C6-7 spinal cord injury from a car wreck when I was 16 years old,” White says. “I was told by my previous insurance company I would have to wait five years for a new wheelchair. When my five-year mark came close, my chair was beyond

outdated and no longer served its purpose of helping. It hindered my daily life. My wheelchair brakes are faulty, my chair is two sizes too big so it ultimately slows me down, and my chair weighs 35 pounds which makes it extremely difficult to maneuver and take apart for the purpose of driving by myself.”

Area agency seemed interested in helping White until learning she will be moving from the region this month because her husband, Bradley Stebbins, had been reassigned from Moody, first to Alaska and now to Hawaii. Stebbins has served a few years with the Reserves and now a couple of years of active duty, White says. Meanwhile, the couple’s insurance will not cover the specific type of wheels which White needs for her chair.

“An ultra-lightweight manual wheelchair is the ultimate goal when choosing a manual wheelchair. Spinergy tires are top of the line tires for a wheelchair,” White says. “They use carbon fiber materials to allow the wheelchair to maintain a light-weight while helping with speed. The materials are light-weight, therefore, help the user to push faster with minimal effort.”

Spinergy wheels can also be customized, in terms of color choices, etc. For anyone thinking why worry about color choice, White makes the point that being in a chair does not mean a person is no longer interested in her appearance.

“The customization is important because as an individual that is paralyzed, the chair is the first thing people notice,” she says. “So why not make the chair personalized?”

But the main concern is increased access to living a fuller life.

“I have been in a manual wheelchair for six years now and accepted everything that comes with being paralyzed,” White says. “I would just like to have a chair that helps me be more independent. A lightweight wheelchair will allow me to transfer myself into the car, break the chair apart, load the chair into the car and ultimately drive off, with hand controls, of course.”

In addition to BIAS, Moody’s Exceptional Family Member Program has been working to secure White a grant.

Carter says an additional $800 is needed to make White’s chair complete.

Anyone interested in helping Kendra White may contact Alan Carter of BIAS, by emailing biasofga@bellsouth.net

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