Wish List – Upgraded Wheelchair would make life easier for 13-year-old boy

Ian Hatfield from the Cincinnati Enquirer - December 6, 2011

Every year our local newspaper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, generates a wish list and prints a daily story about an individual who needs something to better their lives. The campaign is sponsored by the Enquirer and administered by United Way. Thirteen-year-old Ian Hatfield was featured on today’s wish list.

Like my sister Annie, Ian has cerebral palsy. Also like my sister Annie, according to John Johnston who wrote the story, Ian “can’t walk or talk, but his smile speaks volumes.” When Ian was 10 months old, he was diagnosed with schizencephaly, a rare brain disorder, and cerebral palsy. My parents were first alerted that there was something wrong with Annie when she was 9 months old. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 14 months.

Ian’s mother is quoted as saying, “The way the doctors describe it, he’s trapped in a body he can’t use.” (Cincinnati Enquirer, Dec. 6, 2011)

Because of modern technology, unlike my sister, Ian is able to communicate with a device that “speaks his thoughts when he pushes buttons on a screen.” Also unlike Annie, he was likely trained from an early age to use a power wheelchair for mobility.

Ian has outgrown his power wheelchair, and his insurance is expected to only cover a portion of the cost. His parents have limited financial resources because of his mother’s time off work from serious medical issues and his father’s loss of a job due to the recession.

I have no way to know, but sometimes I wonder how different life might possibly have been for Annie had she been born in 1998 instead of 1958. When I see someone like Ian it warms my heart and makes me want to cheer out loud. Sometimes I criticize all the things we’ve lost in this age of technology. But when I see a 13-year-old boy who is able to go to school, and communicate because of the devices technology has provided, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of our society’s achievements.

Go Ian.

If you would like to help, print the coupon below and mail it with a donation to

Wish List
P.O. Box 6207
Cincinnati, OH 45206

(Click to enlarge).

20 thoughts on “Wish List – Upgraded Wheelchair would make life easier for 13-year-old boy”

  1. Printing and donating. Thanks for sharing. You are a good woman, Christine!!! Your kindness and generosity are evident in this heart felt post. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to help. Blessings.

  2. Thank you Christine! My name is Stefanie Felts, and I am Ian’s mother. It is so hard to describe what a fantastic child he is & to put it into words. He is facing a great deal of challenges right now & he still wakes up smiling everyday. He inspires me to be a better person on a daily basis. He is a straight A student at Batavia Middle School & we could not be prouder of him. Thank you again for taking the time to read his story & to write about it on your blog. A friend of mine actually sent me the link for it.
    Stefanie Felts

    1. What a nice surprise. I’m glad you found your way here. I’m proud of Ian too.

      My sister Annie was born a year after me with severe brain damage that they diagnosed as cerebral palsy. She died in 2009 at the age of 51, far surpassing doctors’ predictions for her life-span. Without words, she brought us a lot of love. So I might know a little something of what you’re feeling.

      I wrote a memoir about Annie’s life and death called Dancing in Heaven – a sister’s memoir. In it I share the commitment and devotion my parents lived every day with. You might find it inspiration. It is available at Amazon.com or through links on this page.

      Best of wishes in making Ian’s wish come true.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

      1. I found the book & will be ordering it this week. It is so nice to meet new people that appreciate Ian & how awesome he is.
        Thank you for recommending the book – I look forward to reading.
        Stefanie (but everyone knows me as Ian’s mom….he is very popular here in Batavia)

      2. I’ll bet he is (popular in Batavia). My mom always said that people might not remember her name, but they always remembered Annie’s. There’s something about Ian’s purely joyful smile that reminds me so much of her. I’m glad you are able to truly enjoy him. He’s a gift.

        I hope you’ll let me know what you think about the book, or any comments or questions you have about it when you’re finished. (When you read it, I think you will understand that I really “get” it.) Thank you for reading Annie’s story.

        I hope you get the help you need for Ian’s wheelchair. A friend of mine tweeted my blog post about it, and my blog got about 200 hits that day, which is almost twice what I usually get in a day. Hopefully some people will donate. How can they resist his little smiling face?


  3. Christine,

    As the Executive Director for the agency that submitted Ian for the Wish List, I am very grateful for your post!

    Dynette Clark
    Building Blocks for Kids

  4. Thanks Christine, I worked with Ian’s mother for 8 yrs. I meet her right before Ian was diagnosed. Stephanie is a very special angel, she has always held her head high and put Ian’s needs before her own. Ian is also a very special young man, to know him is a true blessing. Just take one look at his smiling face, it says it all. Please everyone who reads this please help Ian with his wish. If anyone deserves a wish come true it is IAN! Love you Ian.

    1. I believe Stephanie probably is a special angel, as many people think my parents are. His smiling face, and the caption at the top are what caught my eye. My sister, Annie, shared her smile generously.

      Thanks for passing the word on.

  5. “…I am overwhelmed by the goodness of our society’s achievements.”

    And I am overwhelmed by your goodness and generosity and so happy to be your friend! Thank you for highlighting this important and life-changing need; let’s hope this helps fulfill Ian’s need!

  6. I’m extremely inspired along with your writing abilities and also with the layout to your weblog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a nice blog like this one today..

    1. Thanks for your kind words. This is a wordpress blog which is free for anyone who wants one. I am responsible for the content. Thanks for stopping by.


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