My second son, Cameron, was born two months early on New Years day in 2008. He spent one month in Waikato NICU and came home discharged as a healthy baby, with all the best wishes. It soon became apparent that this wasn't the case, and in May 2008 he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy. I have owned Mountain Buggy prams for 4 years(just a beginner really!) - starting with our black Urban Elite in 2007, and then our lime/black Swift in 2009. Even though he was underweight and had virtually no muscle mass, he was difficult and heavy to hold because he had no control of his head - heads are heavy! Our Swift went everywhere with us and was so easy to use. We also got given a buggy from his physio therapist to aid in postural support. It was heavy, bulky, difficult to fold(and came in two parts) and yuck! No matter how good it was for him! Being the buggy connosieur I thought I was, it just wasn't up to my standard and I often alternated it with his MB. With the MB, I often took it out just to blend in and pretend we were the same as everyone else.
In July of 2010 Cameron got a wheelchair. Apart from having wheels, it is nothing like a buggy. It has no hood, does not lay back like a buggy does and is about 10x the weight! We have to face that Cameron will need a wheelchair for a good part, if not all, of his childhood at least. It is our future, but as Cameron is only just 3 years old I'm going to be squeezing in as much buggy time as I can! My main concern was protection from the elements of the weather, both sun and rain. Being that we had no hood, we had no place to attach shade or weather cover. I walk everywhere, and no matter how much sunblock we applied when we went out, with the start of summer, Cameron would come home with his knees roasted. When I go out in the sun, I like to keep in the shade as much as I can and it just didn't sit right with me to have my son so exposed to the sun - especially as he was sitting still, strapped in, he couldn't shield himself even if he wanted to. A hat wasn't enough to protect his body. I looked into hoods and shields for the wheelchair and was told that they didn't "do" them and to walk along holding an umbrella - not practical! Finally I found an umbrella that attached to the wheelchair but it was so big I couldn't see past(or over) it! I reverted back to his Swift more and more, but because he can't support himself in a sitting position, he was fast running out of lying down room.
I knew that Mountain Buggy used to make a special needs buggy, to hold bigger children, and I began making enquiries. It was a lot of money and at the time I had no hope of coming up with the cash to buy it. I even found another Mum on the MB Facebook page that had the special buggy - so I was seeing pictures of just how good it was and what it could do out in the open that the wheelchair could never do - from shading my child to going on the beach! I made yet another enquiry and mentioned that I was going to try and look into community grants and funding. A change in circumstances for our family meant that we could not afford to buy it ourselves. It was at that point that I was introduced to the program Buggies for Good and was given an amazing offer - Mountain Buggy were GIFTING our family with their special needs buggy - Ranger. I did what any woman would do when faced with great news - I cried! I just couldn't believe the generosity of the offer, from a company whom I thought was there to primarily make money. I quote from one of the emails I received from them - "sure, we are a business, but we're a business made up of real people, mums and dads trying to make a difference!" The difference this buggy was going to make to our family couldn't be put into words.
As a thankyou, I decided the best I could do was donate our Swift to their cause - Buggies for Good. It was coming to the end of it's useful life with our family anyway. It was in excellent condition and could have sold for a great price, but I couldn't do that, knowing I had been gifted a new buggy already. I wanted to share the same joy and give a gift of our own. I suggested to Mountain Buggy that a family be found within the charity True Colours. True Colours is based here in the Waikato and directly helps our family out - they are a charity of counsellors, therapists and private nurses that gives whatever help is needed to families that have a sick, disabled or life threateningly ill child. I thought how fantastic it would be that a family with parents that don't have a lot of money because they are at home caring for their child and cannot work to get a buggy! Too often I have met families in this situation, they afford not much more than the necessities of life, and getting out and about is made harder still by the care they dedicate to their child. A family like this could really use a MB Swift - they cannot buy it themselves, but it is perfect for them - being small and narrow it can fit on buses and is so easy to take around for hospital trips, sitting in doctors offices and in lifts getting to and from all the different appointments and procedures they may face. Mountain Buggy also thought this was a fantastic idea so at present our old Swift is down in Wellington, getting a facelift, and will soon be shipped back here to Hamilton where True Colours will present it to a family that will no doubt do what I did when faced with the gift of a buggy to make their life easier - cry with gratitude, thanks and appreciation!
Thankyou Mountain Buggy. I hope that you can sense just how much this means to my family. Buggies for Good really is good, and I hope with many more generous donations from the public that the scheme continues for good!