A Victoria elementary teacher is going the extra mile for a former student.
Lindsay Cristante has pledged to run 100 kilometres in one day to raise funds for 16-year-old Quinn Schaddelee, who has muscular dystrophy. Cristante wants to raise $100,000 to help Quinn’s family pay for accessibility upgrades to their home.
Cristante was Quinn’s Grade 4 teacher at Frank Hobbs Elementary School in 2014.
“(He was) living with something that no other kids could understand and probably not really be able to relate to,” Cristante said. “But he was able to put a smile on his face and always try his best. And he was always giving 110 per cent no matter if it was really within his physical ability or not.”
The term muscular dystrophy describes more than 160 different neuromuscular disorders, according to Muscular Dystrophy Canada. Those disorders are characterized by progressive deterioration of muscle strength, and while medical research and interventions have improved both life span and quality of life, many – like Quinn – live with worsening chronic pain and mobility limitations.
When he was younger, Quinn was a pitcher on a little league team and was in the local 4H club, showing poultry and lamb. As his condition worsened, he taught sheep to walk beside his power chair when he stepped into the ring. He often needed help, but he could participate, said his mother, Tricia Schaddelee. But in the years since his condition has worsened even more.
“It’s really limited what he can do now,” she said. “I see him adjusting his life slowly.”
A special hiking chair helps Quinn get outdoors with his family but the teen spends much of his life in and out of hospitals and isolated from his peers. He experiences chronic pain, has extremely poor bone density and could eventually be unable to stand or walk unassisted. His bedroom was recently moved to the main floor of the family home so he wouldn’t have to climb the stairs.
“He’s always uncomfortable, everything he does is fatiguing. He doesn’t complain about it all the time, but when he does, I know it’s really bad,” Schaddelee said.
But Quinn understands something some people never do – that people are much more than their bodies.
“He definitely has a magical thinking, spiritual side,” Schaddelee said. “He’s just got the sweetest demeanour and kindness inside.”
In the years since she was his teacher, Cristante has followed Quinn’s story and recently reached out to his family to see how she could help, pitching the idea of the run. Cristante hopes her fundraiser will help them add an accessible bathroom to Quinn’s existing bedroom – with an overhead lift system, automatic light, temperature and blind systems and barrier-free shower, toilet and sink.
“I think that’s the most heartbreaking thing – you have a child here who cannot feel like his home is accessible to him, and that’s the place where you’re supposed to feel the most comfortable, and the safest,” Cristante said.
Schaddelee said accessibility would make a world of difference for Quinn. Right now he doesn’t use his power chair inside the family’s Cadboro Bay home, but that could change.
However, the changes needed to make the house more accessible are estimated at around $200,000, Schaddelee said.
As of Feb. 19, Cristante’s fundraiser has raised more than $24,000. Her running adventure – which spans Saanich, View Royal, the Highlands and Cordova Bay – is scheduled for June 5.
To donate, visit gofundme.com.
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