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).