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Paralyzed grandma given gift of play with her family

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Spinal Cord Injury:

Donna Lowich lives with quadriplegia, so interacting with her grandchildren does not come easy. Until she was given Adaptoys, which opened up the world of play between her and her family. VPC

SHORT HILLS, N.J. – Donna Lowich has always had a special relationship with her granddaughter, Karaleen. But Donna’s paralysis has prevented her from engaging in any sort of active play. “I’m basically relegated to spectator,” Lowich said from her wheelchair.

Lowich lives with quadriplegia resulting from a spinal cord injury more than 30 years ago. “As a grandmother, you dream about playing with your grandchildren. But for people living with disabilities, playtime can be isolating and inaccessible,” she said.

Lowich felt that isolation until recently when she was given a variety of toys that had been adapted for people living with paralysis. “My granddaughter lit up when I was able to race cars with her,” Lowich said. It was made possible with Adaptoys.

Along with the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Adaptoys is bringing the power of play to the 5.6 million Americans living with paralysis. The company is equipping toys with state of the art technology such as voice activation, motion sensors and sip-and-puff (SNP) assistive technology so people with physical disabilities can experience the joy of actively playing with their families.

Lowich and her family were given two adapted toys, a remote-control car and a baseball set. The remote-control car is powered by a headset equipped with a straw into which users can exhale to cause the car to accelerate, or inhale to reverse. Motion sensors on the headset steer the car left or right based on the user’s head movement. And the voice-controlled pitching machine throws a ball on the user’s command, tossing pop-ups, groundballs and strikes.

Watch the video above to see Donna and her grandchildren play together.

“Adaptoys will allow me to be part of her childhood in a more meaningful way, and my only hope is that we can bring these accessible toys to many more families,” Lowich said. “Everyone deserves to play with their loved ones.”

The creation of more adaptable toys is contingent on meeting a fundraising goal. Once that goal is met, the toys will be gifted to 100 eligible individuals, chosen by lottery, who registered at Adaptoys.

The more successful the crowdfunding effort, the more toys will be produced and families will be reached.

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Lauren Ready, USA TODAY


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