By TAYLOR HARTZ
A local family is turning to the community for help purchasing equipment for the daily care of 11-year-old Southington resident Kyle Belanger.
Kyle has a rare genetic condition called Emanuel syndrome, which has left him with physical and developmental delays. Despite countless surgeries and procedures, several daily medications, and a team of sixteen specialists, Kyle is still unable to walk, speak or eat solid foods.
Kyle’s parents, Michelle and Kris have lived in Southington their whole lives and have dedicated the past eleven years to lessening the discomfort of Kyle’s syndrome. Michelle provides full time care to Kyle, who left Hatton Elementary School this year to attend the Gengras Center Special Education School in West Hartford, while Kris works full-time and delivers pizzas for Domino’s in the evenings to fund Kyle’s medical needs.
Their home on Mount Vernon Road has been transformed into a center of care for Kyle, with a recently remodeled entryway and bathroom to provide extra space, a rail going up the stairs for Kyle’s wheelchair, and tracks along the ceiling of several rooms for Kyle’s mobile lift.
Despite these renovations, “the physical challenges of taking care of Kyle as he continues to grow are making home care harder to manage,” said Michelle.
To improve home care for Kyle, the Belanger’s have started a GoFundMe account with a target goal of $10,000. This will help the family purchase three pieces of equipment that will make daily life for Kyle easier, more comfortable, and less time consuming: an Aqua Lift bath chair, a special needs hydraulic changing table, and a handicap accessible car seat.
A new lift will help improve Kyle’s favorite part of the day, bath time. “We used to give him his bath right before bed,” said Kris laughing, “but now it’s the first thing he wants after school.”
With two dislocated hips, it is very uncomfortable for Kyle to walk or even briefly stand for a shower. The lift will help him ease more gently in and out of the tub, onto his changing table, and into bed.
While his current lift system, gifted to the family this Christmas, provides great assistance when lifting Kyle off the floor after playtime, and transferring him from furniture to his wheelchair, it is an uncomfortable and scary experience for Kyle.
As he gets heavier, it is increasingly difficult for Michelle and Kyle’s home aid, Desiree, to lift him up for daily routines like bathing, changing, and car rides. The new table and lift will adjust to the height of whoever is aiding Kyle, lessening the strain. Each of these items will accommodate Kyle from his current size until he is fully-grown.
Any funds left over after the purchase of the equipment will go toward Kyle’s pediatric motion hippotherapy in Durham. When financially possible for the family, Kyle has attended horseback therapy every two weeks since the age of three, where each half hour session costs $65. During his lessons, a therapist rides horseback with Kyle, moving him into different positions to help strengthen his core muscles, while activities along the course and time spent with the horses help his communication and developmental skills.
All donations will ensure that the Belanger family has the resources necessary to care for Kyle more easily and comfortably, while providing Kyle with therapy beneficial to his physical and mental growth.
Those interested in donating to the Belanger’s can visit www.gofundme.com and search for “Kyle’s Medical Equipment.” (http://www.gofundme.com/mvc.php?route=search&term=kyle%27s%20medical%20equipment)