Bus drivers steer efforts toward a child’s treatments
May 4, 2010
By Chantelle Lusebrink
Issaquah school bus drivers are driving for something different this month.
Of course, they’ll still cart your little ones to school and back, but now you can help them as they drive to finance a medical treatment for bus driver Lisa Staley’s 4-year-old granddaughter Lisa, who has cerebral palsy.
“She is such a sweet little girl,” said Staley, an Issaquah driver for 20 years. “She is very bright, very smart, but she has a hard time communicating. She laughs all the time and when she gets upset, she’ll let you know.
“I would just like her to be able to do more on her own,” Staley said. “That’s what we want for all of our kids, to be independent and function in society. I know it won’t happen now, but this is a great start.”
The treatment will cost about $3,500, said driver Cyndi Lampson, and it isn’t covered by the family’s insurance.
The treatment is at the Conductive Learning Center in Grand Rapids, Mich. While there, the girl will undergo conductive education training. The training is specifically for individuals diagnosed with cerebral palsy, spina bifida and other motor challenges.
By repeating tasks and integrating intentional movement with learning, the brain can create alternate paths to send messages to muscle groups and create desired movements, despite neurological damage, according to the center’s website. The training is intense and includes multidisciplinary education, training and development. The training, developed in 1945 by Hungarian doctor Andres Peto, is used internationally.
“The main objective of conductive education is to teach children to be as independent as possible,” said Lacey Hays, Lisa’s mother. “It will help with all aspects of her life, like toilet training, getting dressed, feeding herself, and getting up and crawling.”
Lacey and Lisa, who live in Enumclaw, leave for the training May 10, but every little bit helps, Hays said, as there are also travel expenses and other products the family can purchase to continue her education at home, like a communication device and special toilets.
Since finding out about the treatment, the bus drivers have rallied together to sponsor lunches at the main and plateau transportation department locations.
With a little home cooking from drivers, like D.J. Henderson, who made homemade potato soup April 29, drivers are getting a homemade lunch and donating $5 to eat, which goes to support the cost of Lisa’s treatment.
“It’s wonderful. We’re calling it Soup for the Soul,” Henderson said. “For me, I have nine healthy grandkids. To help someone who doesn’t is important and we’re all working together as a team to do that.”
Drivers have made cookies and put them up for sale for teaching faculty in many schools, are hosting pancake breakfasts for drivers and hosting a garage sale, Lampson said.
They are supplementing the homemade goods with donations and raffle items from Costco, she said.
“People are really donating their time and talents,” Lampson said. “So far, we’ve raised more than $500. At a dollar at a time, that is great and we are so thankful for the support.”
The bus drivers first met little Lisa in March, when the family wanted to educate people about the disease, Staley said.
Lisa’s disability “has become our lives, like anything that affects someone you love,” she said. “They came down to work and met a few people. We handed out flyers and ribbons, because it was cerebral palsy awareness month. That’s how we started.”
It only took that interaction to set the bus drivers in motion, Lampson said.
“There are angels among us. You just never know where they are until they come,” Staley said.
“It is really incredibly overwhelming that people I barely know, and some I don’t know, can be so supportive to us,” Hays said. “They are helping with so many different things that come along with her cerebral palsy. That people are supporting us financially and emotionally is incredible.”
But little Lisa has done more than help bus drivers understand more about cerebral palsy. She has helped them come closer together as a group.
“Lisa is one of my best friends and all of this warms my soul,” said Lin Rogers, a fellow driver. “With the economy the way it is and a lot of dissension among our ranks just trying to get by monetarily, all the bus drivers’ efforts to help heal this special little girl, it has really helped heal our bus drivers’ family. We realize that there are bigger issues than just ourselves out there. It is truly remarkable.”
Now, they’re asking for the community’s support to help them help Lisa even more.
“We’d love if people who wanted to donate sent checks, stopped by with money or businesses helped us with raffle items,” Lampson said.