GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- It can be hard for parents who have kids with disabilities to watch their kids struggle.
Photo: Logan McLennan
There is a program in the Grand Valley that is designed to help these kids get out, explore their environment, and have some fun.
The Go Baby Go program provides these kids with a custom, powered car, which is not only a great way to get around, it also gives them a much needed break from doctor appointments and therapy.
Kiedan-Jay is one of six kids getting a modified, ride-on car next month through the program.
He goes to therapy four times a week. Because of complications at birth, he has a form of cerebral palsy.
“He cannot eat by mouth. We have a feeding tube. He cannot sit on his own. He can't walk, can't talk,” said Kiedan-Jay's mom, Jessika Baleztena-Blair.
The 2-year-old can roll and he has a special, adaptive stroller. Otherwise, it’s hard for him to get around.
Bella Price, who is 5-years-old, has a similar story. She also has a form of cerebral palsy and is unable to walk.
She got her custom car last year when the Go Baby Go program first started in the Grand Valley.
"It’s given her a level of independence that she doesn’t have typically," said Becky Price, Bella's mom.
She says the car has made a huge difference in Bella's life.
"She has so much to offer and sometimes it’s hard to see past what her physical limitations are. So giving her as much independence as possible really lets her shine through and shows the world what she can do," said Price.
"Having a car gets them their mobility so they can explore. It really actually enhances their development," said physical therapist Anouk Kincaid.
Kincaid works at Colorado Canyons Pediatric Rehabilitation in Fruita. She says the cars allow the kids a chance to connect with the world around them, including other children.
"Whether the kid can speak or not, it just gives them that more normal feeling to where the other kids come running right up to them," said Kincaid.
On March 11th, engineering and kinesiology students at Colorado Mesa University will help build the cars. Each one is custom built to match the needs of the child.
"For a lot of our kids they have a lot of trouble using their feet," said Michelle Raymond, a speech language pathologist at Colorado Canyons Pediatric Rehabilitation.
Instead of foot pedals, the cars are often modified to include buttons or switches.
"They can hit or touch with their fingers that we rewire within the car so that they can more easily get the car going, instead of having to use their foot or the pedal," said Raymond.
It’s a labor of love that can be life changing for the kids who receive them.
"To see their kid gain some independence that they don't normally get is really exciting to see, and to see that interaction with other kids that doesn't happen on a regular basis. It's just a really great thing," said Raymond.
For Kiedan-Jay’s mom, she cannot wait for the moment she sees her son in his custom car for the first time.
"Just to see to his excitement. I’m excited to see him activate it, just light up," said Baleztena-Blair.
Each car costs up to $300, which includes the car itself and the supplies to modify it.
The program is funded entirely through donations. In fact, organizers are just wrapping up a major fundraising campaign. If you are interested in donating, organizers have set up a Go Fund Me page. Just click on the link. You can also reach out to the Family Health West Foundation.