Easter Seals is pleased to announce our new 2015 local Ambassador: Ben MacDonald.
Ben is 14 years old and currently enrolled in his first year at White Pines. He lives with his parents, his younger sister Meghan, and their two dogs Brutus and Mortimer. Ben describes his family as “very, very awesome” as well as “loving and caring.”
Ben’s favourite subject in school is English, and he received the English Award upon graduating Grade eight last year. Ben also enjoys tuning in to the culinary show Master Chef, and aspires to become a doctor! Even though this is only his first year of high school, he has already joined Student Council. Ben takes voice lessons, and was the star attraction for Grandview’s entry in last year’s Soo Sings where their team earned money for Easter Seals.
As Easter Seals Ambassador, Ben will represent the many Easter Seals children in our community with physical disabilities at events such as Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids, the Easter Seals Telethon, and the Bell Celebrity Skate & Swim presented by Agero. Ambassadors’ duties also include riding on the Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie float during the Community Day Parade, and dropping the puck during the opening ceremonies at the Battle of the Sections Soo Greyhound game.
Local teachers Scott and Heidi MacDonald first noticed that their son Ben’s walking development was slightly delayed when he was around two years old. Their doctor sent them to see a specialist at the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre – Algoma for testing. Then the summer that Ben turned four, Scott and Heidi learned that their son had been diagnosed with Duchene’s Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
Duchenne’s is a genetic, degenerative disease that primarily affects the voluntary muscles of the body, including the heart and lungs. Early in their development, people with DMD display a generalized weakness in the hips, shoulders and thighs which means they will have to spend their growing years in a wheelchair.
Due to his condition, Ben lives with limited mobility. He needs his wheelchair for long distances like at school, and has difficulty with stairs. Every four months, Ben travels to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital for ongoing treatment. Despite the challenges that DMD presents, Ben is exceeding expectations for children his age with Duchene’s, who generally are confined to a wheelchair full-time.
Scott and Heidi found out about Easter Seals after Toronto’s Sick Kids advised them to go to the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre – Algoma to find out more about the resources and support available for families with children with physical disabilities. The MacDonald family is excited for all of the annual Easter Seals events, especially the upcoming Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids – a snowmobile fundraiser taking place February 7th.
Easter Seals is a non-profit organization that helps youth with physical disabilities gain independence, freedom, and realize their potential through such initiatives as offering monetary assistance to families purchasing mobility equipment and communication devices, and sending children to fully accessible summer camps. These programs reduce the financial strain on families caring for a child with a severe disability, which can cost an additional $40,000 each year.
Access to mobility equipment and communication devices help children with physical disabilities enjoy the same experiences and opportunities as their peers. Ben’s favourite thing about having access to a wheelchair is that he is able to go more places, and we are excited to see the places that Ben will go as our 2015 Sault Ste. Marie Easter Seals Ambassador!
If you are interested in supporting Easter Seals Ontario, check out these upcoming events in our community:
TD Change for Change in the Lives of Easter Seals Kids – January and February, local schools and TD Canada Trust branches.
Snowarama for Easter Seals Kids – Saturday, February 7, start: Grand Gardens North 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m..
Easter Seals Telethon – Sunday, March 29, noon to 7:00 p.m., Shaw Cable Channel 10.