Shriners help local girl 0
While track and field events at school represent enjoyable competition for thousands of kids if you are physically disabled it can change the whole dynamic of the event and really take the 'fun' out of it.
Earlier this year, Kailen Halverson participated in a school track and field for the first time and "almost" came in second. This was a milestone event for the 11-year-old Angus girl who has only ever watched from the sidelines.
Caudal Regression Syndrome is Kailen's biggest challenge in life -- an affliction that's improved tenfold thanks to the ongoing support of the Manito Shrine Club of Collingwood.
Caudal Regression Syndrome for Kailen is a combination of severe scoliosis at the lower spine (sacrum), abnormal hip growth resulting in one leg being longer than the other, and a club foot which could have put her in a wheelchair if not for reconstructive surgery. The little girl has undergone several procedures in the past several years to straighten her spine, lengthen her leg and get special fittings for a shoe lift to balance her height.
So, coming in almost second in a school race is really something to celebrate.
"The lift really helps me and it makes me feel like I am like everyone else and I fit in. I get to pick my
own shoes -- even running shoes -- but the lift I wear always has to be adjusted," said Kailen,
who before surgery had a left femur that was 30% shorter than the right.
"They were able to lengthen my leg at the Shriner Hospital in Montreal -- that was when I was in Grade 4. I've been through a lot; it's like a big obstacle course. I think the Shriners are great... there are no words to explain how I
feel. If I hadn't met them at the YMCA my life would be a lot different."
That fateful day took place at the Shriner 'Adapted Swim Program' at the Collingwood YMCA. At that time the family lived in Collingwood and Kailen attended school at Connaught and Cameron Street public schools. When the then-five-year-old and her mother Nicole met Shriner Don Borland, he was interested to know more about Kailen and told them the Manito Club might be able to help.
"We had an interview with the Manito Shrine Club and Kailen's condition was something that met the criteria, so they wanted to take her on as a patient," said Nicole. "Up to that point we had no diagnosis. She had been to the Isaac Walton Kilham Hospital for sick kids when we lived in Halifax and they said they could do nothing for her. They were good but all they could do was monitor her growth.
"The Caudal Regression Syndrome affected her size and movement; before the surgery she had an eight-centimetre difference in the length of her legs. At five years old she could barely walk 20 feet and she would be so tired; she was very lopsided.
"We were shocked when we got a diagnosis at the Shriner Hospital in Montreal so quickly."