BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A Georgia woman with Western New York ties is taking on a big challenge: get more federal funding for the 17 million people across the country with cerebral palsy. It’s a condition she was diagnosed with as a baby, and now wants to help others.
Lauren Walier, 18, said, “I own it. I love it. I’m definitely not one of those people who is ashamed of what they are.”
When Lauren Wailer was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a baby, her parents never let her be negative. She said, “They basically raised me thinking that I could do anything that I wanted to do, just like any other kid, and to reach for the stars and to follow your dreams.”
And following her dreams meant being a leader. She attended a Cerebral Palsy conference at the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
“I learned there was no federal funding for cerebral palsy research. Which is insane. On top of that it affects 17 million people world wide. It’s called the forgotten disability. None of those things add up and that killed me,” she said.
So she came up with the Make LemonAide Foundation, raising money for research, and to bring some sunshine to those with C.P.
She said, “There is so much negativity in the world, and I feel like with what we’re doing, it’s just this wave and movement of happiness. A lot of the kids with this disease, they need that too.”
She’s now a competitive ballroom dancer traveling around the country. But, she couldn’t always speak, and move like this. She said, “I was definitely a more moderate to high-end case. I lost a lot of functionality.”
Growing up, she relied on her wheelchair the majority of the time. But at 12 years old, she tried something new: An advanced therapy program called “the symptom recovery model.”
She said, “I had energy back. I could start participating fully in school again and became my old self. And then I went from a wheelchair, to a walker, to a crutch, to a cane, and that will be going away very soon.”
Now, her foundation is training a therapist here in Buffalo to be able to help C.P. patients reverse their symptoms with this treatment. The hope is to spread this model across the country.
She said, “This should be the new traditional therapy.”
It’s not often that people with cerebral palsy can have a voice, but Lauren does. She wants to be the voice for those who don’t have their own.
She said, “Through my foundation, my hope is that it’s no longer called the forgotten disability and those people are accepted and feel loved.”The Make Lemon Aide Foundation for Cerebral Palsy is proud to present the 4th Annual Walk/Run/Roll in Lauren’s Shoe’s on Sunday, June 11, 2017.
The event features a 5K run and 1 mile walk. Individuals of all abilities are invited to participate, including those with wheelchairs, walkers, and strollers. For a unique twist, you can choose to wear ankle weights to simulate what it may be like for someone living with cerebral palsy (CP).
Fore more information, head to the Make LemoAide website.