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Waverley set to cruise for the kids

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Waverley Leduc is gearing up to go cruising for a good cause.


The eight-year-old Ecole J. B. Mitchell School student will be the parade marshal for the 16th Annual Cruisin’ Down the Crescent fundraiser on Sun., June 10.


The event is in support of the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation and designed to help children living with disabilities and special needs. Organizers say money raised will be used to buy specialized equipment and fund adapted recreation programs.


Participants can walk, bike, rollerblade or wheelchair approximately 10 kilometres from the Rehabilitation Centre for Children (633 Wellington Cres.) to the gates of Assiniboine Park and back. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and opening ceremonies are slated for 9 a.m.


Last year, Waverley was diagnosed with Rett syndrome — a rare neurological disorder found almost exclusively in girls that can sometimes be misdiagnosed as autism or cerebral palsy. The disorder affects Waverley’s speech and fine and gross motor skills and causes seizures, which fluctuate depending on her stress levels.


"She has a severe speech disorder. She knows what she’s trying to say and, within context, we can usually understand her. Now she can walk and run, but needs supports," said Waverley’s mother, Colleen, who is grateful for the work of the foundation.


Waverley has received a specialized Freedom Concepts bike, custom-made ankle-foot orthotics and modified chairs to meet her needs at home and at school.


"It’s been amazing. I feel like the bike is helping us battle the disorder, as it’s making her stronger. We’d never be able to afford a bike like this. It’s a wonderful gift," Colleen said.


And despite her challenges, Waverley enjoys attending the same school as her brother, Jasper, and has had the help of educational assistant Susie Swinn for the past four years.


"The school has been great to us. Waverley loves the kids and the kids love her. Lots of them have been with her since nursery. It’s wonderful how they look out for each other," Colleen said.


Erin Kangas, CRF’s development officer, said Waverley growth and development has been inspirational.


"She’s such a gentle, happy person who has different challenges in her life," said Kangas, who lives in Norwood.


"When I first met Waverley two years ago; she was shy, not very vocal and her gait was unstable. Now she seems a lot more confident and comfortable and she interacts with strangers a lot more."


"We try to provide a better quality of life and I’ve seen Waverley grow both physically and emotionally. It’s like having a layer taken off you when you’re more mobile and you can have a bike ride with the family," she added.


Kangas said the foundation deals with children from across Winnipeg and Manitoba, including Headingley. The Headingley Fire Department Run/Walk for Wishes fundraiser was held on May 26.


For more information, or to register, visit www.crf.mb.ca.

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

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