It’s taken a decade of hard work, but 13-year-old Kamree Anderson can now walk without falling. She plans to tackle stairs next.
Kamree was born 16 weeks premature and suffers from cerebral palsy. Most of her muscles are tight and weak, especially on the right side, which creates a balance issue.
“As we watched her progress, we knew she needed help,” said Bryan Anderson, Kamree’s dad. “She was going to have challenges, and she needed all the help she could get.”
That help came from the Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center, Anderson said.
Wednesday afternoon, she and a fellow adult Easter Seals patient, Craig Doninger, sang the center’s praises at a news conference that launched Easter Seal’s 22nd annual Home Run Sweeps All Cash Raffle, one of the center’s two annual fund-raising raffles. Proceeds from the raffle pay for physical, occupational and speech therapy for local residents with disabilities, said Pam Kirk, the center’s director of marketing and community relations.
“It’s a great place,” Kamree told a room full of people at the news conference. “The people really care about their clients.”
Kamree and Doningerare this year’s child and adult patient representatives for the fundraiser. The two will make appearances and tell their stories again at the annual Easter Seals Telethon which will be broadcast live over Local WEHT WTVW on April 14 from the center at 3701 Bellemeade Ave. in Evansville. They’ll also be on scene for the raffle drawing, which will be held at noon March 7 at the center.
Doninger, this year’s adult representative, was not born with a disability as Kamree was.
Until two years ago, he was a healthy man living in Nashville, Tenn., and managing a uniform laundry company. Then, one sunny day at his nephew’s birthday party, he dove into a shallow swimming pool and broke his neck.
Friends pulled him from the pool, an ambulance took him to a nearby hospital and a helicopter flew him to a hospital Nashville. He doesn’t remember his first week in the intensive care unit. When he did wake up, the doctors told him he’d never walk again.
Doninger moved home to Evansville so his parents could care for him, and he started physical and occupational therapy at Easter Seals.
There, he said, therapists help him build upper body strength so he can get in and out of his wheelchair without help. The center taught him to drive a van using hand controls, and rebuilt his bathroom so he can shower.
It was the Easter Seals’ support that helped him re-imagine his life as a quadriplegic, he said.
“They help you cope internally, too,” Doninger said. “I woke up one morning and decided I could continue feeling sorry for myself or get up and go do something.”
Doniger, now 40, just completed his first semester at Ivy Tech Community College with a 4.0 GPA. He’s in the human services program, and plans to eventually work with patients at hospitals and rehab centers who have recently had a traumatic injury, as he did.
All the while, he’ll continue his physical therapies at Easter Seals.
“It’s just amazing how much help they’ve given me,” Doningersaid. “I would give anything for this wonderful organization that has given me so much.”
Easter Seals Home Run Sweeps All Cash Raffle tickets are $100 each.
They are for sale at Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center at 3701 Bellemeade Ave., at Milestones Child Development Center at 621 S. Cullen Ave., or online at www.eastersealsswindiana.com.
The grand prize raffle winner will receive $100,000. Second prize gets $10,000, third is $5,000, and fourth and fifth receive $1,000 each.