Traeh’s Wheels; Marshfield freshman spearheads effort for Rapids youth
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD – A Marshfield freshman is spearheading an effort to help provide needed equipment for a Wisconsin Rapids youth who faces several medical challenges.
Traeh Paulin, 12, has faced challenges since birth – born at 31 weeks with two holes in her heart.
“Traeh having Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy along with other medical issues, make day-to-day needs especially hard for her and myself,” said Traeh’s mom, Rhonda Sanders.
One of Traeh’s needs to meet day-to-day needs is a wheelchair-accessible van.
“Traeh will always be in a wheelchair for transportation and she has limited walking and that is with full assistance,” added Sanders. “The cerebral palsy has caused her right leg to be about 2 1/2 to 3 inches shorter than her left leg and smaller in diameter. This causes problems with her walking even with braces for her legs and a lift on her shoe. Traeh is growing and getting taller and heavier so it makes things more difficult for the both of us. Lifting her into my truck to go places and her lifting the wheelchair also is just not safe anymore for either of us.”
But, Marshfield student, Sonia Dissanayake is leading an effort to fill that need.
“I first met Traeh’s older sister, Nevaeh, last spring, when we played on the same team in a 3-on-3 hockey tournament. Currently, Nevaeh plays for Marshfield Blades at the Bantam level, where my brother is a goalie,” said Dissanayake. “One day, our mothers were on penalty box duty together, and chatting, when Rhonda (Nevaeh’s and Traeh’s mom) shared Traeh’s story. Moved by the trials and tribulations of Traeh Paulin (12) my mother shared the story with us at home, including details of the challenges the family faces from not having a wheelchair accessible van.”
The conversation sparked an idea for Sonia.
“It so happened at school we were to work on a community research project for Ms. (Katie) Hitchcock’s class,” Dissanayake. “I guess sometimes the stars line up just so, and all you have to do is connect the dots. My friend Austin Hunter and I chose ‘Wheels for Traeh’ as our project. Then I took it further; I opened a GoFundMe account and took the project out into the real world. And here we are one month and $6,000 later.”
Dissanayake says that giving to Traeh’s needs also provides a sense of inspiration in the community.
“I find crowdfunding intriguing. We can come together as a community and take ownership of a good deed, and contribute a ray of sunshine to another person’s life,” Dissanayake said. “I keep thinking how great it would feel for someone in the community, who donated to ‘Wheel’s for Traeh,’ to see Traeh coming out of her wheelchair accessible van and know they are financially and emotionally invested in Traeh’s well being.”
For more information, or to donate, visit www.gofundme.com and search for “Wheels for Traeh.”