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Utah families with special needs children receive gift of mobility

Posted at 7:07 AM, Jun 15, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Two Utah families with special needs children received a gift that will assist their mobility as they get out and explore Utah and beyond.

The families were given Wonderfold Wagons at Utah’s Hogle Zoo.

“We haven’t really been able to go out,” said Amber Russell, a mom of three from Ogden. “His wheelchair, he’s grown out of and insurance won’t cover another one right now.”

One of Russell's sons has a rare genetic mutation that makes mobility a challenge.

Russell wrote a letter to the Wonderfold Cares program, explaining her family’s needs and the financial burden caused by skyrocketing medical bills.

Her letter is one of 60 from across the country that will be selected this year to receive a new wagon at no cost.

The Russell family met Jesi Brandt’s family at the surprise presentation.

Brandt's son Myles was born eight months ago with a heart defect.

“At four days old we were told to prepare for end of life,” she said. “When we found out about Myles we were scared at first, but it is definitely a blessing. He is an absolutely amazing kid.”

Several days ago, Myles received a life-saving heart transplant at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Brandt is looking forward to the day when she can take her son to a place like the zoo or a park after he is released from the hospital.

Her letter was also selected to receive a Wonderwagon.

Due to her son’s health issues, a wagon will allow for more freedom to explore the world.

“He is technically too young to get a wheelchair,” she said. “With him having Down syndrome and a heart defect, he will get tired quicker.”

Both families believe this gift of mobility will better the lives of their children.

“These are our best days,” said Scott Walker, a representative of Wonderfold. “There is nothing better than helping a family that really deserves it.”

After receiving a wagon, Amber took her kids on a stroll around the zoo – the first rolls of the wheels that will help her family overcome everyday challenges.

“Just warms your heart to know, I am not in this alone,” Russel reflected.