Emily & Jake
Born with Spina Bifida, a spinal cord defect, Emily’s mother was told that her daughter would never walk or have an active life. Now a sophomore in college, Emily plays college wheelchair basketball and dreams of being a Paralympian someday.
Also born with Spina Bifida, Jake’s diagnosis includes Hydrocephalus, commonly known as water on the brain. Throughout his life, he’s had to have surgeries to have shunts implanted to remove the fluid. Without a shunt, he would die. Growing up, Jake’s biggest dream was to play on a basketball team. Now an adult, he has found his home in the sport he loves, playing for the Orlando Magic Wheels.
However, both Emily and Jake are at risk for having their dreams cut short. We need your help to keep their dreams alive.
Because Emily and Jake don’t have the use of their legs, they rely on their wheelchairs. But unlike you or I, who can change our shoes when they’re too small, outgrowing a wheelchair is tremendously expensive. Both Emily and Jake have been stuck in chairs that are too small for far too long. Imagine the only shoes you had were a pair you purchased when you were 16. Would they still fit after all this time? That's what Emily and Jake are dealing with – trying to fit their adult bodies into wheelchairs they received as teenagers. As adults, they have outgrown their chairs and don’t sit in them correctly.
On custom wheelchairs, the seats are sometimes higher in the front, sloping down toward the back. The angle of the seat compared to the ground is known as "seat dump". For Emily, the dump, or tilt, of her seat is too much, which restricts the use of her abs and forces her to use her body differently. Because of her chair having too much dump, she can’t use the full rotation of her arms to push her wheels properly. This in turn affects her speed. Improperly sized equipment slows her down, and forces her to push her body even harder to keep up with her collegiate competitors.
Jake is dealing with similar issues. He doesn’t sit right in his chair, and as such he must use his body differently to get the same results as his well-fitted opponents. Last year, the Orlando Magic Wheels ranked 12th in the nation, putting them in the top 10% of teams around the country. It is Jake’s dream to take the team further, to push harder, but he can’t while he’s stuck in a chair that is too small and limits his mobility.
Emily and Jake use adaptive sports as an outlet for staying active and healthy despite their disabilities, and for making friends with people like themselves. As children, finding adaptive sports activities was easier as there are many adaptive programs for kids. But as adults, staying active becomes much more difficult because adaptive sports options are limited and the same outlets for activity, movement, and friendship become few and far between. Without new wheelchairs, not only will Emily and Jake’s dreams die, but their ability to stay active might disappear altogether.
With your help, we can get Emily and Jake the equipment that is vital to their survival and help get them closer to achieving their dreams. We need to raise $8,000 to purchase new wheelchairs for Emily and Jake. Together, we can make this happen.
Every little bit helps. Please donate today. With your help, we can put Emily and Jake in new chairs by September 2019, allowing them to start the season with equipment that works with them, not against them.
Donations are made to AGED, Inc. for the Florida Adaptive Sports program. All donations are tax deductible and a tax receipt will be furnished for your records. Should you help us exceed our goal, surplus funds will help other adaptive athletes with similar equipment needs. Your personal information will never be sold. While we love to thank our donors publicly, your donation may be kept anonymously if requested.
View our donation policy. Donations made toward the Emily & Jake Equipment Fundraiser fall under our Program Specific Donation policy.