New wheelchair puts a smile back on Junior’s face

Junior Price can take his pet dog Gia for a walk again after receiving a specialist wheelchair from the Steve Morgan Foundation.

The 12-year-old has a rare genetic, neurodegenerative movement disorder called Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA), which is characterised by a gradual loss of coordination.

The youngster, who lives with his mum Natalie and sisters Macey, 17, and Keira, 11, in Huyton, Liverpool, also has a curvature of the spine, a heart condition called cardiomyopathy and needs a ventilator to sleep at night.

The combination of his medical conditions left him too exhausted to push his wheelchair for more than a couple of minutes.

His mum Natalie said, “He just wants to be able to play with his friends or walk his dog Gia.

“However his manual wheelchair was regularly getting stuck in the grass or in the sand so rather than get involved Junior was watching from a distance. It was heart-breaking.”

The youngster’s family was told that his life could be transformed with a DaVinci Leggara wheelchair with an electric powered front wheel attachment called a Trailrider Citta, but they couldn’t afford the near £7,000 price tag.

After the Steve Morgan Foundation stepped in to meet the cost through their Enable Fund, Junior took delivery of his new lightweight wheelchair this month.

Natalie said, “We’ll never forget the generosity of the Steve Morgan Foundation. Junior has been out on his new wheelchair every single day with his dog. It’s given him a new lease of life and he’s smiling again.

“There’s no cure for his condition and I just want him to enjoy every day and smile again. The DaVinci wheelchair allows him to do that.”

Steve Morgan CBE, who founded the Steve Morgan Foundation in 2001, said, “It’s lovely to know what a difference the new wheelchair has made to Junior’s life and that he’s able to get out and about with his dog and his pals. This will have a positive impact on his confidence and wellbeing and will avoid him becoming socially isolated.”

The Steve Morgan Foundation’s Enable Fund supports people of all ages in financial hardship, who are in need of specialised equipment, including mobility aids, wheelchairs, buggies, wheelchairs and trikes.

Recalling when her son was first diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia, Natalie said she realised something was wrong with Junior when he was six.

“I noticed his balance was off and he had a small curve in the spine,” she recalled. “I kept taking him to the doctor’s surgery and wouldn’t give up.  I used to carry him everywhere.

“Eventually he was sent to Alder Hey Hospital and a neurologist realised something was wrong and tests confirmed he had Friedreich’s ataxia when he was seven.

“The diagnosis completely crushed my world. Junior got a manual wheelchair but he’d get tired within a couple of minutes of pushing himself around.”

Junior is also awaiting surgery for his spinal condition scoliosis, which may worsen his mobility.

“That’s why we applied to the Steve Morgan Foundation for help in buying the DaVinci Leggara wheelchair,” said Natalie. “It’s electric and means Junior can get himself out and about on his own. It’s given him more independence.”

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