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Special wheelchair helps 17-year-old lead a more normal life

ST. LOUIS – A teenager with special needs gets special help from Variety the Children's Charity St. Louis. It's a high-performance machine with a name to match; but more importantly, it’s a lifesaver for a Maryland Heights teenager.

Kathryn Kerckhoff is all smiles while managing the controls on her new power wheelchair. This very futuristic machine—the F5 VS—is her ticket to greater independence, according to her mother, Julie.

“It opened up her world to be more like ours in the sense that she’s going to have choice, everything is not based on time and she's not going to be in pain,” Julie said.

Kathryn's power chair was a gift from Variety the Children's Charity St. Louis. Committed to children with disabilities, Variety assists families in many ways; fundraising makes it possible to give away one or two power wheelchairs per year. Kathryn made the list this year.

“Katheryn is dependent on us to get her in the right position, to make sure she’s out of pain, to make sure all of her needs are met, and Katheryn still wants to do everything a 17-year-old wants to do,” Julie said.

The F5 VS allows her to go from sit to stand, lay to stand.

“All we have to do to get her to standing is literally just push a button and the computer does the thinking and makes sure she stands ergonomically correct,” Julie said. “And it’s not painful at all.”

If Katheryn were still using a traditional power chair, she wouldn't be nearly as mobile.

“The other day we figured out how to wash her hands being above the sink rather than reaching her hands over the sink,” Julie said “And she thought that was great.”

“I think it’s like anything in life. When you get a gift, when it’s truly a gift, it just keeps blessing you more and more and you realize what a gift it is.”