A wish comes true for Treasure Mountain Junior High student
The tears welled in Darcy Swedish’s eyes as she told the story.
Her daughter Nina, a ninth-grader at Treasure Mountain Junior High, has a condition called cerebellar ataxia, which affects her balance and makes it difficult to walk. Her muscles overfire when she takes steps, meaning she has had to use a walker to make her way through the school halls.
But that all changed recently. In December, she was given a Segway scooter through the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Utah and the help of an organization called Segs4Vets. Since returning to school from the holiday break, Nina has been able to get around more easily than ever before.
In short, it’s changed her life.
"It’s pretty fabulous," Darcy Swedish said, fighting back tears. "Since she’s had it, she’s been able to have lunch with other kids at school, which she couldn’t do before. And this keeps her on her feet, standing and looking on par with everybody else, which is great. It’s been a game-changer already, especially the first week back in school.
It all started early last year, when Nina’s doctor at Primary Children’s Hospital gave her information to Make-A-Wish. When the foundation called Darcy Swedish, it came as a complete shock. But Nina, who wants to be an astrophysicist, soon decided on a wish: She wanted to travel to the Orion Nebula.
Of course, that wasn’t possible. And Nina’s focus shifted when she first rode a Segway last summer at the National Ability Center’s No Barriers Summit. She was reluctant to give it a spin at first, but all it took was one ride to convince her a Segway is what she needed to ask for in her Make-A-Wish letter.
"When we got back in the car, I was like, ‘Mom, I’ve got to change that letter!’" Nina said. "It was epic!"
Nina has had the Segway — complete with a space-themed paint job — for several weeks now. Nina is a natural and deftly wheels it around, which gives Darcy Swedish optimism for her future.
"I envision her being able to get around a college campus and pursuing her education," she said. "It gives her so much hope. And to see her so joyful and hopeful, there’s nothing greater for a parent."
As well as changing her own life, Nina’s wish has been an inspiration to those who granted it. Mary Chamberlain, a Make-A-Wish volunteer tasked with making Nina’s wish come true, said getting to know Nina and her dreams for the future has been an "amazing experience."
"This is one of the few wishes where it is something that not only gives her hope but actually helps her physically," Chamberlain said. "She was looking for something that wasn’t just temporary but was more permanent. It’s a wish that is a lasting wish and that’s so touching."
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“The community has really rallied behind our schools right now, which now really means a lot to teachers and staff,” said Kara Cody, Park City Education Foundation’s programs director.