More MS news articles for Aug 2001

Donation offers woman with MS greater freedom

Retired nurse wanted wheelchair lift to go to deserving person, through hospital

Thursday, August 16, 2001
Kristen Kromer - Staff writer

For Wendy Saulibio, a stranger's castoff will bring a new level of independence.

Saulibio, who has multiple sclerosis, has been attending Holy Family's Adult Day Health Center twice a week for about a year for exercise, crafts and socialization.

"It's so I have other people to talk to, so I'm not shut in the house," Saulibio said. "We talk while we do crafts and you learn about other people and their lives."

The Colbert resident typically gets around in an electric wheelchair, which requires special equipment to be hauled from place to place.

"For me to use an electric wheelchair, I can only use the Deer Park bus," she said. "And if I go to visit my daughter or go shopping, I have to wait four hours until they pick me up."

At other times she uses a manual wheelchair and has to have someone else along to push her.

So when she was offered a free wheelchair/scooter lift at the end of July, she was thrilled.

"One day I went to Adult Day Care, and they asked if I needed it. I said, `yes,"' she said. "I think it's a good thing."

The wheelchair/scooter lift, valued at $1,500, was donated to the Holy Family Foundation by Gwenn Schwann, a retired nurse who has since moved out of state. Schwann purchased the lift for her own needs, but it didn't fit her car, and she wasn't able to return it.

Schwann wanted to donate it through a Catholic organization and "to make sure a deserving individual would be blessed with the gift," said Diane Pickens, director of rehabilitation services at Holy Family Hospital. Such donations are unusual, she added.

Saulibio expects to receive the lift this week, and has high hopes for the freedom it will provide.

"It will help if I want to go shopping with my daughter or go to a movie. It'll make me more mobile," she said. "If we go to a park, I can roll around on my own. It'll give me more independence. That makes a big difference."

Pickens urged people to look for wheelchairs, lifts or bath equipment cluttering up their garages and consider making a donation.

"The equipment can be given to someone who needs it, and it can help people get rid of extra stuff," Pickens said.