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The SCOOTER Store Donates Power Chair to Teenager Struggling With Rare Dwarfism

Gift of Mobility Helps Teenager Attend Classes and Take Trips to the Mall

ROUND ROCK, Texas, April 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Like many 15-year-olds, Rachel Wilhite enjoys hanging out with her friends, shopping at the mall and attending school.

However, she is also struggling with a condition that makes her life very atypical. Rachel has Morquio syndrome, a relatively rare dwarfism that has serious consequences. When the body cannot process certain types of mucopolysaccharides, they build up or are eliminated, causing various symptoms. Morquio syndrome can cause abnormal heart development, abnormal skeletal development, hypermobile joints, large fingers, large head, bell-shaped chest, enlarged heart and compression of spinal cord.

At 36 inches, Rachel has reached her full height. Most children with Morquio syndrome lose their mobility by 10-12 years old, so Rachel is anomaly because she is still able to get around her family's modest home. But her mobility is still limited, and she has difficulty at school because there are several buildings that she has to reach for classes throughout the day. When the family goes to the grocery store, Rachel has to sit in the children's seat of the grocery cart or ride in a stroller because she cannot walk up and down the aisles. She does not qualify for a wheelchair through insurance because she can get around on her own to some extent.

Citing Rachel's amazing spirit and strength, The SCOOTER Store today presented the teenager with a Jazzy Select power chair through its Gift of Mobility program. Rachel was surprised with the chair today at her school, with her family in attendance. The power wheelchair was delivered by Mobility Manager Jay Melton and Director of Service Jack Lucas at The SCOOTER Store.

"Rachel is an extraordinary example to all of us," said Congressman John Carter (TX-31). "No matter what life has handed her, she has found the emotional and physical strength to live her life as normal as possible. Now, thanks to The SCOOTER Store, this journey will be easier. I applaud them for their selfless donation, and I thank Rachel for her ability to continue to inspire us all."

Rachel's mother, Valerie Wilhite, is overwhelmed by The SCOOTER Store's generosity and says that the chair "will open up a whole new world" for her daughter. "Rachel can finally start developing some independence and be like every other teenager," adds Ms. Wilhite. "I'm so excited for her!"

The Wilhite family has had to endure numerous challenges associated with Rachel's condition. Rachel's parents earn modest incomes, and medical bills abound and credit card debt keeps increasing as they pay for things to make their daughter comfortable and as "normal" as possible. The family lives paycheck to paycheck and purchasing a powered wheelchair outright would be impossible for them to do.

Although Rachel never complains and maintains a positive attitude, her challenges are ongoing. Rachel tried to attend public school but the children were very cruel to her, so her grandfather now pays for her to attend Round Rock Christian Academy. Rachel had a very old power chair donated to her by a kind soul whose parents died, but the motor failed on it after she had it a few months. Her school purchased a power wheelchair from Craigslist for $400, but it has tears, scratches, needs repair and may not last much longer. It also belongs to the school, so Rachel cannot use it at home on her bad days or take it to the store so she does not have to ride in the baby stroller. But she knows what independence feels like and desperately wants to maintain that in her life as much as possible.

Doug Harrison, CEO and Founder of The SCOOTER Store, said he hopes that "the power chair will make life a bit easier for Rachel, who deserves every chance possible to be an active and healthy 15-year-old. Everyone at The SCOOTER Store is honored to help this young woman who lives life to the fullest despite a very challenging disability."

Mr. Harrison and his wife, Susanna, started the Gift of Mobility program in December 2002 to help people like Rachel improve their quality of life by recovering their independence and mobility. Since then, the outreach program has worked with organizations around the world to donate power wheelchairs, scooters and manual wheelchairs valued at more than $200,000 a year to individuals and community service organizations, enabling them to provide freedom and independence to individuals with limited mobility.

About The SCOOTER Store

Since 1991, The SCOOTER Store has helped provide freedom and independence to more than 300,000 people with limited mobility. The SCOOTER Store offers a full line of durable medical equipment, including power wheelchairs and scooters, lifts, ramps and accessories in 47 states, including seven stores in Texas. The SCOOTER Store has worked with more than 100,000 physicians, providing expertise and quality service to their patients, and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care.

CONTACT: Mark B. Leita, Director of Public Affairs of The SCOOTER Store, +1-830-627-4717

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