Shining the Spotlight on Spina Bifida
June is national spina bifida awareness month in Canada. This condition is one of many physical disabilities or life-threatening illnesses that impact the lives of Sunshine Kids receiving a Sunshine Dream or traveling with us on a Sunshine DreamLift.
The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada defines Spina bifida as “a neural tube defect which occurs when the spine fails to close properly during the first four weeks of pregnancy. About 85% of babies born with spina bifida will also have hydrocephalus which is an accumulation of fluid on the brain.”
Rozlyn is a 10 year old fashionista from the Ottawa area whose dream to cruise down the California Coast was fulfilled in 2014. Rozlyn has spina bifida and wears purple animal-print braces for long-distance, endurance and stability.
“Rozlyn came up with the idea of driving down the coast from L.A., but we’d never been,” says Kathryn. “She likes fancy cars. Whenever we travel somewhere, she’ll see one and gasp, ‘Look at that car!’”
Rozlyn’s Sunshine Dream started with a ride in a BMW convertible to her surprise Dream Presentation hosted by the WINNERS store in Orléans, ON. “It was heartfelt, loving and warm,” says Kathryn, Rozlyn’s mom. “All her teachers were there, her friends, plus Sunshine Volunteers Rita and Dean and the caring Associates from WINNERS.”
When Rozlyn explains why she likes convertibles, it’s simple. “They’re pretty!” So, even with the windy weather on the West Coast in late July, Rozlyn was ready to go. “I chose to layer the clothes and have the heat on. That was my dream.” When they got to the car rental location in L.A., they immediately saw the car Rozlyn had dreamed of. “A Mustang. Silver. They said it was brand new.”
Rozlyn and her parents, Kathryn and Jeremy, packed the trip with every stop possible – Chinatown, Fisherman’s Warf, Alcatraz, horseback riding in Pebble Beach, Monterey Bay to see humpback whales and Hearst Castle.
One of the things Rozlyn remembers most – “You could smell broccoli in the distance,” she laughs. The trip gave Rozlyn’s parents a first-hand understanding of what a dream can mean for a child. “It’s something special,” says Jeremy. “It shows kids that they’re important and their dreams matter.”
Spina Bifida information source: The Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Canada http://sbhac.ca/june-awareness-month/