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Supporting Gracie Payne

Gracie (right) and Danette Payne are fundraising to purchase a new wheelchair accessible van.
Gracie (right) and Danette Payne are fundraising to purchase a new wheelchair accessible van.

Anyone who has met Gracie Payne would likely say her smile lights up a room.

The nine-year-old French Shore Academy Grade 4 student has been living with cerebral palsy since she was four-months-old, is non-verbal and completely relies on others to do day-to-day tasks.

Gracie's mom Danette is her primary caregiver. She's is the one who is responsible for helping her with those tasks.

Although her mom has been able to help her throughout her life, there is one thing that has been getting more and more difficult — transportation.

It's a lengthy process for Payne to bring Gracie to school, the store or anywhere for that matter.

The young, single mom has to manoeuvre her fourth grader's wheelchair from their Port Saunders home to her vehicle, take her out and place her inside, then dismantle the chair. Then she has to store it in the vehicle as well. Even after years, and now being able to do it like clockwork, it still takes approximately 10 minutes to do.

For some, 10 minutes might not seem like a lot. But when you consider that every time Payne has to take her daughter out — it's a process she repeats at least four times — it adds up.

Besides it being a long and difficult process, Gracie is growing. Like other kids her age, she is getting taller and heavier. It makes it more difficult for Payne to put her in the vehicle.

For the past few years, she has been looking into the option of getting a vehicle adapted for Gracie's chair, both for convenience and function. This past September, the community joined with them to begin fundraising.

"My thing was, she's getting bigger," Payne said. "The longer I wait, the longer we're going to be without it."

With the help of the President's Choice Children's Charity, Payne and Gracie have begun the steps to a new van. Once they apply for the funding, they will be eligible for some $17,000 to help go towards the modifications for the vehicle. But the total cost is over the $51,000 mark.

So far Payne, with the help of some dedicated members of the community, has put off several fundraisers, including a cold plate sale, a poker run, a kids cake walk and bingo and sold tickets on prize baskets.

Plenty of travel

Gracie and her mom travel to St. John's at least eight times a year to the Janeway Children's Hospital. That doesn't count any other travel they must do to Corner Brook or for other medical appointments. This year, it's been 14 so far.

During the first year after Gracie's diagnosis, Payne put 120,000 kilometres on her vehicle.

They have never had a new vehicle, so it's a lot of upkeep and maintenance, which can get expensive.

With a new van, Payne is hoping it will alleviate that concern.

For Payne, what matters most is that Gracie is happy, and being able to get out and do things is one of those things that does that.

"Someone always has it worse," Payne said.

When someone says to her that Gracie can't do something, she shows them they are wrong.

"I don't like when someone says the word ‘can't’ to me," she said. "It pushes me ahead to say she can do it. She just has to do it in a different way."

An example she gave is ice skating. Payne brought Gracie skating, strapped the skates on her feet, set her up with her walker and let her skate.

"She's happy and she smiles," said Payne. "It's the little things that matter. The little stuff is what we aim for."

The nine-year-old French Shore Academy Grade 4 student has been living with cerebral palsy since she was four-months-old, is non-verbal and completely relies on others to do day-to-day tasks.

Gracie's mom Danette is her primary caregiver. She's is the one who is responsible for helping her with those tasks.

Although her mom has been able to help her throughout her life, there is one thing that has been getting more and more difficult — transportation.

It's a lengthy process for Payne to bring Gracie to school, the store or anywhere for that matter.

The young, single mom has to manoeuvre her fourth grader's wheelchair from their Port Saunders home to her vehicle, take her out and place her inside, then dismantle the chair. Then she has to store it in the vehicle as well. Even after years, and now being able to do it like clockwork, it still takes approximately 10 minutes to do.

For some, 10 minutes might not seem like a lot. But when you consider that every time Payne has to take her daughter out — it's a process she repeats at least four times — it adds up.

Besides it being a long and difficult process, Gracie is growing. Like other kids her age, she is getting taller and heavier. It makes it more difficult for Payne to put her in the vehicle.

For the past few years, she has been looking into the option of getting a vehicle adapted for Gracie's chair, both for convenience and function. This past September, the community joined with them to begin fundraising.

"My thing was, she's getting bigger," Payne said. "The longer I wait, the longer we're going to be without it."

With the help of the President's Choice Children's Charity, Payne and Gracie have begun the steps to a new van. Once they apply for the funding, they will be eligible for some $17,000 to help go towards the modifications for the vehicle. But the total cost is over the $51,000 mark.

So far Payne, with the help of some dedicated members of the community, has put off several fundraisers, including a cold plate sale, a poker run, a kids cake walk and bingo and sold tickets on prize baskets.

Plenty of travel

Gracie and her mom travel to St. John's at least eight times a year to the Janeway Children's Hospital. That doesn't count any other travel they must do to Corner Brook or for other medical appointments. This year, it's been 14 so far.

During the first year after Gracie's diagnosis, Payne put 120,000 kilometres on her vehicle.

They have never had a new vehicle, so it's a lot of upkeep and maintenance, which can get expensive.

With a new van, Payne is hoping it will alleviate that concern.

For Payne, what matters most is that Gracie is happy, and being able to get out and do things is one of those things that does that.

"Someone always has it worse," Payne said.

When someone says to her that Gracie can't do something, she shows them they are wrong.

"I don't like when someone says the word ‘can't’ to me," she said. "It pushes me ahead to say she can do it. She just has to do it in a different way."

An example she gave is ice skating. Payne brought Gracie skating, strapped the skates on her feet, set her up with her walker and let her skate.

"She's happy and she smiles," said Payne. "It's the little things that matter. The little stuff is what we aim for."

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