A cancer diagnosis at four months old meant Evelyn Moore would never walk, but that hasn’t stopped her. The 13-month-old gets around in a homemade wheelchair built by her dad.
The chair’s design is an ingenious bit of upcycling – a lilac Bumbo sits on top of a kitchen cutting board, and the whole thing rolls around on a combination of two casters and two kid’s pushbike wheels. Evelyn has quickly learned how to manoeuvre the chair, and is now able to explore her surroundings just like any crawling one-year-old might.
Her mum, Kim Moore, tells Canada’s CBC, “She went backwards first, and then she went forwards, and then she figured out how to turn. And now we have a speed bump in the middle of our living room because she just goes so fast.”
Evelyn’s cancer was first discovered at her four-month baby check. The nurse noticed too much movement in Evelyn’s hips, and when a doctor did a follow up, a lump protruding from the baby’s spine was found.
The newly diagnosed stage 4 neuroblastoma tumour was inoperable, but following eight rounds of chemotherapy, the cancer is now in remission.
Although she’s recovering well, the tumour caused permanent damage to her spinal cord, which means Evelyn is paralysed from the waist down. Doctors predicted her development would start with commando crawling where she pulled herself around with her arms. After that she would be in a wheelchair.
Unhappy with such a limited future for her young daughter, Kim took to Pinterest to look for a better solution. She found photos of a baby wheelchair, which she asked her husband Brad to build. He spent an evening in their garage, carving out the sides of a Bumbo to make room for wheels and fixing the seat on a cutting board.
Evelyn took a while to adapt to the modified Bumbo. Then one day, after Brad nudged her down the driveway, she managed to stop. Since then, Brad says, “Nothing can stop her.”
Evelyn’s parents are pleased because it gives their daughter the freedom and independence other babies have when they’re crawling.
Evelyn can only say a few words, but she finds ways to show she loves it too. When she sees her chair, she waves her arms, and when she’s sitting in it, she rocks the chair forwards and backwards, clicking the casters to show happiness.
Doctors are also impressed. Paediatric oncologist, Dr. Bev Wilson, expressed amazement when she first saw Evelyn rolling into the office in her chair. “She looked like any adult or older child would in a wheelchair. She was turning around in circles, backing up.”
Wilson thinks the chair is a brilliant option for parents of young kids facing the same issues as Evelyn.
Like all parents, Kim and Brad hope for a bright future for Evelyn. Her mum says they want to make sure that “she has the same abilities as any other one-year-old.”