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Community rallies around Elmira woman’s bid to live a more accessible life

Despite her Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Shannon Kelly is looking towards a slightly brighter and more accessible future thanks to the kindness of the community.

It was just recently that Kelly’s husband Geoff created a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of raising $4,000 to get her an electric wheelchair to help with her declining mobility. They ended up receiving donations upwards of $5,500 and have since purchased the wheelchair. In addition to being able to meet their goal, the couple also realized just how much people around them want to help, seeing many extend offers and assistance in making their lives easier.

Having heard from many who reached out to donate or sell them a wheelchair, in addition to helping construct an accessible porch (including a ramp) and ramp at the back of the house, Kelly is simply overflowing with emotions.

“I’m feeling blessed about how much the community has come together and how we had people volunteering to give scooters to us and for a gentleman offering his services – just us buying the material – for a new front porch and ramp and a back ramp for me. Just having a chair and some freedom, it’s amazing,” said Kelly.

“My husband and I, and our family would like to thank everyone. I want to thank you, and words cannot express how much it means to us that so many people helped us out. It’s not the money, it’s also just the people saying, ‘how are you doing today, how are you feeling?’ and just the little things. We want to say thank you and we greatly appreciate everything, and we’re just so happy we live in such an amazing community.”

Things turned around quickly for Kelly, who had felt confined to her home, looking for a way to get outdoors despite the constant pain she is in due to her condition.

The fundraiser would end up exceeding the goal a week after it was launched. Not long after, the community began to reach out and she was donated a scooter. From there someone approached her family and her, offering to help build an accessible porch and back ramp, all they needed to do was provide the materials.

“He stopped by my mother in law’s house first and then he came by and he was talking to me about how he was a retired carpenter, and he offered his services to build it for us we just had to pick up the supplies. He then says, ‘I just need a helper,’ so that’s where my son came in, and within three days, they had the back door done and the front door done.”

Now living a more accessible life than she was a month ago, Kelly is already looking ahead to her bright future, noting she has everything she needs.

“I have everything. I have an amazing family that care of me and amazing neighbours around here that are always checking in on me. I got my chairlift inside and I got my ramp in my backyard, so I just have to take every day an hour at a time because I don’t know what the day is going to be like later on. Today I actually feel around 7.5 So that’s decent for me from the last week, being bedridden, so this week I’m actually doing better. I couldn’t be more happy that we can actually stay instead of moving like we were going to,” she added.

Since letting her story be known, Kelly has also had other people who are living with CRPS reach out to her and connect in their shared experiences.

“I didn’t know very many people around the area with CRPS and I had a nice woman in Harriston, and another one in St. Jacobs reach out to me that have CRPS. It’s nice to have a little group of friends that I can relate with, they’re around the same age as me, and they all have gone through different treatment, different stages. The woman in Harriston has said, ‘you know what, I’ve had this done at St. Joseph’s Hospital, they’re really good.’ That’s the hospital I’m trying to get in with and she’s giving me different things that helped her, so it’s amazing that I can hear what’s helped her to try to help me. I never thought that I’d meet very many people around here that have what I have – it’s incredible. It’s such a rare disease that only one in 100 get diagnosed per year, but to find three separate people [in the] area just blows me away.”

Shannon Kelly outside her Elmira home with the wheelchair and ramp provided by community support. [Sean Heeger]

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