This year, the Chicago Polar Bear Club is honored to support two incredibly deserving families:
Kayla O’Toole & Family
Kayla is one of the bravest people we’ve ever met….. and she’s only 6 years old. Due to a rare neurological genetic disorder, Rett Syndrome, Kayla is unable to speak or walk, and sadly never will. Imagine a disorder that includes symptoms of Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Seizures, and Anxiety Disorder all wrapped into one….you’ve now been introduced to Rett Syndrome!
Rett syndrome affects nearly every aspect of Kayla’s life: her ability to speak, walk, eat, and even breathe easily. Kayla is dependent for every bite of food, every drink, brushing her teeth and getting dressed. Despite these difficulties, Kayla’s parents are dedicated to showing Kayla the carefree joys of being a kid. When we first met Kayla, it was easy to see how beautiful and strong she is, much stronger than she should have to be at such a young age.
Due to the many symptoms of the disorder, Kayla requires constant hospital visits, medications and special assistance. As Kayla grows up, it is becoming more difficult to get her from the house and into the family vehicle. In addition, Kayla has a younger sister, Kara, who is 4 years old and loves and wants to hang out with Kayla.
With your generous donations and support, the Chicago Polar Bear Club will provide the O’Toole family the financial assistance needed to get a handicapped accessible lift for their van. This will ensure that the O’Toole family is able to spend quality time together as a normal family, as well as make the transition from home to vehicle much easier for every doctor and therapy appointment.
Mary Wright & Family
Friends and family describe Mary Wright as the "glue" that holds her family together. She is the oldest of 16 children (which includes 8 adopted children) and in 1991 Mary's mother passed away. Afterwards, Mary moved back to Chicago to take care of her aging father, a local pastor – which included paying his bills and even a few bills associated with the church where he preached. Unfortunately, the hardship doesn't stop there... Over the following years a series of terrible events unfolded:
· In 2003, five of Mary's sister’s children died in a fire.
· Mary's brother passed away (Mary adopted his five children)
· Mary's father passed away
· Mary’s sister suffered a stroke
· Mary’s husband passed away
Mary’s father left her the family house and following her sister’s stroke, Mary opened her home and invited her sister and her sister’s grandchildren to live with her. Upon inheriting her childhood home, Mary was unaware that her father was behind on the bills and maintenance. The house is in desperate need of repairs and Mary is behind on the mortgage. With the passing of her husband, Mary is now the sole provider for her family. In an effort to develop new skills, Mary participated in Greater West Town's Wood Products Manufacturing Program and is in search of employment to support her family. Despite this sad story, Mary is determined to keep her family together, but is struggling to provide shelter and day-today essentials. With your donations, the CPBC will provide Mary with funds for home repairs and mortgage payments to keep a roof over the heads of Mary's children, grandchildren, her sister and her sister's grandchildren. This is our opportunity to provide the Wright family with the help they need.