Wheelchairs 4 Kids gives Matthew a new Wheelchair
Tampa, FL – 17-year-old Matthew Rivera has cancer. Matt’s motor skills and stamina have been affected and he desperately needed a wheelchair. Wheelchairs 4 Kids joined together with The Ronald McDonald House and Julie Weintraub’s Hands Across the Bay to present Matt with his brand new custom-fitted wheelchair.
Matt was diagnosed in November 2010 with a high grade glioma, a very aggressive brain tumor. He has endured multiple bouts of radiation and chemotherapy. The muscles on his left side have weakened. Although he can walk short distances, he drags his left foot. He has lost the use of his left arm and hand. He was using a borrowed wheelchair that was unsafe. I’ve included a picture below. Please note that there are no armrests or footrests and it is too small for him.
Matthew has remained optimistic during this difficult time. He is an outgoing young man of incredible faith. His interests lie in the arts. He is a youth leader at his church and loves Christian music. He has a beautiful singing voice but doesn’t sing much anymore as the cancer has affected his speech. He is currently studying television production in school.
Wheelchairs 4 Kids became aware of Matt’s situation from Julie Weintraub who had met Matt through her own charity, Hands Across the Bay. Julie asked if Wheelchairs 4 Kids could help. Wheelchairs 4 Kids immediately contacted Matt’s mom, Rita Rivera. Rita, along with Matt’s doctors, completed the application and provided specific measurements in order to get Matt a chair that would fit Matt perfectly.
The chair was presented to Matt at The Ronald McDonald House in Tampa, a place where Matt and his family took refuge for two months when Matt was being treated at Tampa General Hospital and the Moffitt Cancer Center. Wheelchairs 4 Kids volunteers arrived to set up in the courtyard. They brought balloons and fresh baked cookies and drinks provided by Winn Dixie for the celebration. Julie from Hands Across the Bay also joined the celebration for her old friend, Matt.
The highlight of the day was when Matt arrived with his mom and was met at their car with his new custom-sized blue wheelchair. It was a great moment to see Matt sit in his new chair for the first time and say, “it’s comfortable” with a big smile on his face.
The volunteers from Wheelchairs 4 Kids, Terry from The Ronald McDonald House, and Julie from Hands Across the Bay joined Matt and his mom in the courtyard to celebrate Matt’s new independence. Everyone was smiling, laughing, and sharing stories over cookies. Matt was ecstatic and particularly thrilled with a balloon that was tied to his new chair that said “It’s Your Day”. He decided that he wanted to keep the balloon on the chair all day, even while he attended the Disney on Ice show at the St. Pete Times Forum!
Later, Terry from Ronald McDonald House gave everyone a tour of their beautiful facility that provides a home away from home for families while their children are being treated in Tampa General Hospital or the Moffitt Center.
Matt’s mom was thrilled with the new chair telling everyone how it would make life so much easier for Matt. He would be able to participate more fully in activities with his friends, get around school, and do things as simple as going for a walk with her.
Wheelchairs 4 Kids is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children with physical disabilities by providing wheelchairs, ramps and other assistive devices. For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.wheelchairs4kids.org or call (727) 946-0963.