STANTON, Mich. -- A family in Montcalm County is asking the community to help them give their son a relatively normal life.
Eight-year-old Zade Kooistra was born with spina bifida, leaving him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The older he gets, the more independence he needs. Because insurance won’t cover the costs to make their home wheelchair accessible they are asking for their community’s help.
“Zade was born with myelomeningocele spina bifida, so after birth he needed surgery on his spine to correct the birth defect," said Zade's mother Shannan Kooistra. "His spine grew on the outside causing paralysis from the hips down.”
Despite all of that, he has a smile larger than life.
“No matter when they see him, he’s smiling," said Shannan.
"Just keep on smiling no matter what," said Josh Kooistra, Zade's father.
It’s a motto Zade lives by, which helps keep his positive attitude. As he grows older, getting around has become more difficult.
“Getting him into the house, he relies on us," said Shannan. "It’s just gotten to the point where we can’t stretch ourselves any farther and we thought now is the time to reach out to the community to tell our story, to see if maybe that can become a possibility.”
Shannan and Josh have to help Zade do everything from using the bathroom to getting in and out of the house. The cost of making their home more adaptive for Zade is very pricey: estimated at around $20,000.
"Nothing is covered by insurance," said Shannan. "It’s all on the family.”
It was Zade’s idea to hold a combination yard sale and bake sale on Saturday, raising about $2,500, but they still have a long ways to go.
"It would mean a lot, especially for Zade because I know he wants that independence," said Alayna Kooistra, Zade's sister.
They’re hoping the public will donate to help them get a wheelchair accessible ramp with a wide door entrance and redo their bathrooms to help Zade become more self-sufficient.
"It would be everything," said Shannan. "For him to do everything himself, he’s 8 years old. He doesn’t want to rely on mom and dad.”
“I just want to be like a normal person," said Zade.
Insurance does cover the costs of a wheelchair every five years as well as some other things like braces for his legs, but anything that would be done to their home is considered a luxury for them.
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