Andrew Smith is your typical 21-year-old from Georgia. He loves spending time with his pets, a black cat named Miss Fluffles, and a guinea pig, Gizmo. He has lots of fish in his 50-gallon fish tank. He is a major history buff and has plans to further his education in the near future. Andrew is also living with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, but he doesn’t let that stop him from living life to the fullest.
However, life with Duchenne does not come without its daily challenges. Christina Smith, single mom to Andrew and his 25-year-old sister, Erica, shared with us how much harder it has become to safely transport Andrew in his power chair in the past few years:
“Andrew has been in a wheelchair for over ten years now. After his spinal fusion surgery five years ago, he is no longer able to be safely transferred from his chair to a regular car seat,” said Christina. “He needs to travel in his wheelchair for the comfort and support of his body to ensure his safety and reduce the risk of injury.”
An obstacle for many families impacted by Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the financial burden associated with critical, life-improving pieces of equipment, like the type of van the Smiths needed. Health insurance often won’t cover all specialized medical and accessibility equipment such as scooters, shower chairs, ramps, rotational medical beds, platform lifts, and accessible vans--items desperately needed when impacted by a progressive muscle-wasting disorder.
Enter Jett Foundation’s Jett Giving Fund. Jett Giving Fund is a matching gift program that helps to alleviate some of the financial burden that families face when purchasing accessible equipment. Andrew and his family participated in our 2019 program and after several months of fundraising and raising awareness, recently celebrated the arrival of their new van. The Smiths raised half the funds needed for their nearly $36,000 accessible van conversion through their fundraising page and through the generosity of FOCUS + Fragile Kids. Jett Foundation has matched the remaining 50 percent to cover the remaining cost of the modifications.
“This van will allow us to go to the doctor’s office, get to power wheelchair soccer practice and tournaments, GED classes, community events, church, and more,” said Christina. “There are so many things we can do now, the possibilities are endless. But, what we’re most looking forward to is the ability to visit family now, near and far.”
Launched in 2017, Jett Giving Fund has helped transform the lives of countless families across the country with increased access to independence and safety. We need your help to support more families like the Smiths. To learn more about Jett Giving Fund or to become a sponsor, please visit https://www.jettfoundation.org/jett-giving-fund/.