Hello. I am writing in honor of Annamarie Sabella. I am her high school physical therapist. Anna is an independent 17-year-old young woman who takes an active role in her medical status. Anna was born with diplegic cerebral palsy which limits the functional use of her legs. She currently resides with her aunt. Anna wears braces on her feet and uses a wheelchair and rolling walker for her mobility. Anna reached out to me as a self-advocate to seek assistance for funding an adaptive bike. She has always wanted a bike of her own but never financially could afford one that met her medical needs. Anna was able to trial a bike from Project Mobility in her Adaptive PE class at East Aurora High School on April 16, 2018. That memory has stuck with her. Anna reported that day was eye opening because she never thought she would be able to ride a bike. When she spoke of that day, her face lit up and she could not stop smiling. Anna told me, “Ms. Krueger, I have never felt so free.”
In addition to her cerebral palsy, Anna suffers from congenital kyphoscoliosis and arthritis. This is a severe curvature of her spine that limits her ability to stand upright and her endurance to upright tasks. Anna chronically suffers from back pain which limits her walking and endurance with her rolling walker. Although her testing and surgeries have been delayed during COVID, Anna is undergoing medical imaging to confirm possible need of a spinal fusion surgery.
Anna wants a bike to ride for exercise. She wants to stay active after her surgeries. As her physical therapist, I feel this would be an amazing opportunity to address her strength and cardiovascular health while in a supported sitting position. Anna is also very social. She is a fun loving and talkative high school senior and hopefully come spring the COVID status will allow social interaction with friends in an outdoor setting. Bike riding is a great way to stay healthy outdoors while interacting with others which is a benefit for her mental health as well in these crazy times. COVID has forced students to learn from home and not access the community. This limits Anna’s overall opportunity for exercise and places her at risk for regression in her overall mobility come the time when the world returns to some normalcy. A bike can give Anna back some of that normalcy as a high school student now.
In addition to being her physical therapist, I am the D131 Tomcats Special Olympics coordinator. Anna has been an active member of my team for the past 3 years. Unfortunately, last year our season was cancelled due to the quarantine, but Anna competed in walker and wheelchair activities and even qualified for the State competitions.
Anna wants to be a mentor/“patient ambassador” through Shriners to support other children going through her same struggles. Anna does not limit herself due to her disability, instead she thrives and seeks to do the best she can to enjoy her life. Please consider Anna for a bike donation this holiday season. She is an excellent candidate and even offered to contribute some of her own disability money to show her interest and commitment. That shows her true character :)
Thank you for your time and attention
Rochelle (Shelley) Krueger, DPT MHS