Donors Needed to Help Teen Find Freedom

Published, Tuesday, December 16, 2005

Four years ago Catherine Robidoux was an energetic, active, ten-year-old who was involved in hip hop dancing, baseball, and soccer. Today Catherine is at the G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre for a six to eight week program that helps her adjust to life in a wheelchair.

Catherine’s active lifestyle changed when, at ten, she began to experience extreme pain in her feet, and general overall fatigue. Since that time Catherine has spent more time in doctors’ offices than on playing fields. She went from one specialist to another, enduring a multitude of tests, searching for an answer. Catherine has since been diagnosed with Limb-Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, Miyoshi (early adult onset) Distal Myopathy, Arthritis, and Osteoporosis.

Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy is a progressive disease that affects a person’s muscles, making it difficult to walk, run, climb stairs, or even stand. Miyoshi Distal Myopathy means the wasting or weakening of muscles furthest from the trunk of the body, in Catherine’s case the feet.

For the past two years Catherine has been crawling on her hands and knees to avoid putting weight on her feet. Due to the crawling Catherine developed calluses on her knees and now has cartilage problems.

Catherine had surgery in October to correct the position of her feet. Catherine’s ligaments and tendons were so tight that they pulled her feet up and froze them in a tiptoe position angled to one side. Her surgery included a ligament transfer, the lengthening of the tendons located at the back of her leg, and having plates stapled in her knees to straighten her legs.

The surgery, combined with rehabilitation, will help Catherine to walk very small distances and to transfer from, and to, her wheelchair.

Catherine’s family had to sell their home to find an accessible house. Catherine said, “That’s why we moved – so that I could move around the house easier and be independent.”

The house they bought in Maple Ridge has a open floor plan which allows for easier wheelchair maneuverability. As accessible as this house will be, right now it requires renovations. The family is trying to raise money for an elevator.

Currently Catherine has to “bum scoot” up and down the stairs which causes pain because she has to bear some weight to move from stair to stair. Her family searched for a house that was fully accessible, and livable for four, but realized that all houses require some sort of renovation to become accessible. Their house is capable of having an elevator without any structural changes, which saves a lot of money. The price of an elevator starts at twenty thousand dollars.

Catherine’s aunt Cherie held a surprise fundraiser at the Foxes Reach to raise funds for an elevator. When Jonathan, Catherine’s younger brother, found out about the fundraiser he emptied his piggy bank to help.

Catherine is overwhelmed with the support of her family, especially from her aunt. Catherine said that her aunt “is the best person. She has done so much, and then she goes and does this and totally amazes me”.

Catherine is an intelligent, articulate, and motivated fourteen-year-old who wants to have her freedom and independence.

Shelley praises her daughter’s spirit and says that Catherine is “the kindest, most generous person. She is a go-getter. She just wants to get involved in everything.”

Catherine is looking forward to new challenges and opportunities. She would, however, like to use her home without any challenges and hopes that enough funds are raised to install an elevator.

For more information, or to donate funds, please call Shelley at 465.2092.