Meet the McRitchie family! Noah McRitchie, 22, lives in Virginia with his parents Mike and Laura, and two younger sisters, Paige and Hannah. Paige, 17, and Hannah, 15, are both athletes in high school. Laura is a proud Jett Foundation Community Ambassador, serving as Noah’s full-time PCA. Noah is a full-time college student, working hard to become an Atmospheric Scientist one day.
At 5 years old, Noah was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. As they progressed on their Duchenne journey as a family, the McRitchie’s transportation and safety needs drastically changed to ensure Noah’s safety. Their old accessible van was small with a broken lift and door. And, since Noah is tall, he had to tilt back to get inside the van, putting pressure on his neck post-spinal fusion. Inside the van is cramped, making mobility inside the vehicle hard and uncomfortable not only for Noah, but his siblings, too.
With their son experiencing so much pain and discomfort on every car trip–whether it be to college, the doctors, or on family outings–the McRitchie family was in urgent need of a new van. “We needed a van to get Noah safely wherever he needed to go. We couldn’t afford a new one, and insurance doesn’t help pay for one either,” says Laura, Noah’s mother.
Here’s where the Jett Giving Fund steps in. The Jett Giving Fund is a program that helps families impacted by Duchenne obtain vital medical and accessibility equipment. Health insurance often won’t–or simply don’t–cover all specialized medical and accessibility equipment, such as scooters, shower chairs, ramps, rotational beds, accessible vans, and other essential items needed when dealing with a progressive muscle-wasting disorder. Families raise half the funds, or more, needed for a specific item, and Jett Foundation covers the remaining costs and works with vendors to help bring families their much-needed equipment.
With the help and support of their community, local organizations, and by spreading the word of their fundraising efforts through the newspaper and social media, the McRitchie family raised half the funds needed for their $55,000 accessible van. Jett Foundation covered the remaining half for the family, helping the family to receive their van amidst the global health crisis of COVID-19. With additional help and coordination from Team Joseph and MobilityWorks, the van arrived safely at their home in Virginia.
“Our new van is a backloading van, which helps Noah control his chair better,” says Laura. Their new van also provides higher clearance for Noah’s head, erasing the painful need to lean back upon entering.
The first time Noah got in the van, he excitedly said, “Oh my gosh, is this for real, this is mine? I got right in and my head doesn’t hurt!” Since receiving the new accessible van, the McRitchie Family has been happily traveling together, relieved that Noah is no longer experiencing discomfort during the rides. A memorable trip in the new van – visiting the college one of their daughters will be attending soon.
“We feel so blessed to have a van that has allowed him to travel without pain, fear, or anxiety,” says Laura. “Getting to and from college and doctor’s appointments is going to be so much easier. Traveling as a family comfortably and safely is now not just a dream but a reality.”
Started in 2017, Jett Giving Fund has helped transform the lives of countless families across the country with over $1 million worth of accessible equipment thanks to the generous support of individual donors and major sponsors including Cure Dale’s Duchenne and Sarepta Therapeutics.
You can help us support more families like the McRitchies. Consider a donation or sponsorship of Jett Giving Fund; visit jettfoundation.org/jett-giving-fund to get started.