A huge community effort to help purchase a $20,000 custom-built motorised wheelchair has helped make Tracy Roberts’ life a little easier.
Three years ago, Ms Roberts was diagnosed with a range of complex medical conditions, including Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, mast cell disease, fibromyalgia and osteopenia.
It has meant the 34-year-old single mother is hooked up to an IV for 10 hours a day, suffers severe anaphylaxis attacks and has limited mobility, spending most of her time in a wheelchair.
Ms Roberts was previously using a wheelchair on loan from Ballarat Health Services. But said it was too small, put pressure on her lower back and was difficult to manoeuver meaning she required constant support.
Her new wheelchair was built in the United States to support her body and includes a special seat cushion and power assist to help her move, which Ms Roberts can control through her watch.
It means Ms Roberts can live her life with more independence and less pain.
“It has just helped me so much not having to have someone push me all the time and being able to direct where I’m going when I’m out in the community,” Ms Roberts said. “On my better days I am able to do it all by myself, but there are also many times where I still do need some assistance.”
Mentally and emotionally, the wheelchair has relieved a huge amount of stress.
Ms Roberts said the wheelchair was only made possible due to some unexpected funding from the State-wide Equipment Program and the community rallying behind her GoFundMe campaign.
“We had so many people donate, it was completely overwhelming,” Ms Roberts said. “It was so strange to see such a large amount of money coming in from people I’ve never even met.”
After reading an article in The Courier earlier this year, Sebastopol and District Lions Club made a donation at the end of the campaign to ensure the target was met.
The funds were raised through community barbecues and a grant via the Lions’ health and welfare division.
Ms Roberts is appealing a decision from the National Disability Insurance Scheme to revoke her funding after she was deemed ineligible despite the backing of therapists and specialists.
She said her disability is greatly affecting her everyday function, with her mother forced to give up work to look after her and her daughter Olivia, who has autism.