Kyle McCarthy, 13, and his family are looking to upgrade his wheels.
The Wy’east Middle School seventh grader is the beneficiary of funds raised from a planned Superhero Fun Run organized by the PE department; a similar fun run was held in 2016, organized by Mid Valley staff to help purchase an ultra-light wheelchair as recommended by his physical therapy team.
The run, originally scheduled for April 4, has since been rescheduled for May 16 due to concerns about COVID-19.
When Kyle was 8, he contracted EVD-68 — enterovirus — a rare virus that left him dependent on both a wheelchair and ventilator.
“It was a cold,” said his mother, Debbie McCarthy. “He got it from a cold. Even to this day, they don’t know how to fix it or how he got it. If you’re going to get it, you’re going to get it.”
The last four years have seen Kyle regain respiratory independence; he no longer requires a ventilator. Two months ago, he underwent a nine-hour full spinal fusion surgery and is now in his third month of a six-month recovery period.
“They went from T3 to L6 and gave him 80 percent correction,” McCarthy said. He is not allowed to do anything more physically demanding than arm push.
His family is looking to purchase a SmartDrive Max Mobility 2 attachment for his wheelchair. Similar to an electric bike, it will allow him to go long distances and up hills without help, something he now cannot do alone. The device is activated by vibration: A tap on the leg to start or stop, utilizing a watch.
“It reminds me of a handheld vacuum,” she said. “It hooks onto a crossbar underneath his chair, and you can clip it on and off. It combines a manual chair and a power chair into one and will make it easier to get around.”
The attachment costs $6,000 — $500 more than his wheelchair. To this end, Wy’east is sponsoring the Return of the Superhero Fun Run for Kyle, a 5K and 10K walk/run, on Saturday, May 16 beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Odell middle school. Preregistration at tinyurl.com/superherokyle is $20, and day-of registration is $25.
“Post-surgery is a great time to get it,” McCarthy said. “A lot of places are not (accessible to those with disabilities).
“It will likely be something he needs the rest of his life, for when his endurance gives out,” she said.
For those who cannot make it to the fun run, donations can be made at INB in Hood River (Superhero account). Preregistration forms can also be mailed to Ashlie Sorestad, c/o Wy’east Middle School, 3000 Wy’east Road, Odell, OR 97044 or dropped off at the front office.