A new wheelchair brings smiles

Sruthi Yejju
Finley Bishop sinks a basket as he test drives a new powered wheelchair.

“The people at Easter Seals are like a second family to us and we are all great friends,” Megan Bishop said in a small room at Easter Seals.

Megan and Thomas Bishop are the parents of three children: Ryan, 6 years old; Finley, 4 years old; and Sophie, 15 months old.

Finley was diagnosed with mixed cerebral palsy at the age of 9 months and since then has been a familiar face at Easter Seals.

He just got fitted with a wheelchair Feb. 22. He was extremely excited.

“Does it have a horn?” he asked.

Eric Holmen, an Easter Seals assistant technology professional, who was adjusting Finley’s wheelchair, showed him how to sound the horn. It was Finley’s favorite part of the ride, in addition to turning in circles and shooting hoops through a basket. Finley said he could not wait to get home and ride on his “Tony Hawk ramp.”

Megan described their association with Easter Seals as “a great experience, and they have always been there for us.”

Finley undergoes occupational, physical, speech and pool therapies at the Easter Seals Center.

Easter Seals provides therapy and services to children and adults with autism and other disabilities and special needs.

These services are designed to improve functional and life skills.

Cerebral palsy causes physical disability in human development, due to permanent disorder of movement and posture development.

Finley can army-crawl, sit up on his own and roll, but cannot walk. His mother said Finley was very excited that he was the only one getting a “car” (his wheelchair) among his siblings.

According to Megan, Finley has high cognitive skills and is very bright.

He goes to preschool at the Dunlap Activity Center.

His mother said he loves baseball and is a big fan of the Chicago Cubs.

As part of his therapy, he rides a pony with his grandmother, Kay Bishop. Kay is the owner of K & D Pony Rides. Finley’s pony is named “Peanut.”

Throwing rocks in the creek and playing with trains are his other favorite hobbies.

Finley was the 2009 Peoria Area Ambassador for Easter Seals. Finley and his family helped organize a fundraiser last year and raised around $6,000 for the benefit of Easter Seals.

They are also going to be participating in this year’s Easter Seals Telethon from 6 to 11 p.m. Saturday on WMBD-TV from the Par-A-Dice Hotel, East Peoria and Double Tree Hotel in Bloomington-Normal.

The funds raised will go to the Easter Seals Family Assistance Fund, which provides financial aid to families with no insurance coverage, limited coverage or resources to pay for services.

People can contribute to the telethon by calling the numbers listed on the screen during the telethon, or by making donations online at www.easterseals.com.