Wheelchair opens up new terrain for Cecil, 5

GEARED TO GO: Little Cecil Carelse, 5, waits to try out his new all-terrain wheelchair as Douglas Cockcroft assembles it for him, watched by supportive residents

Offers of help pour in after plight of disabled boy highlighted

A Facebook post, 800 shares and a community rallying together saw the life of five-year-old Cecil Carelse changed for the better when an all-terrain wheelchair was delivered to his home yesterday.

Cecil, who has been disabled from birth, could only move by dragging his lower body using his arms.

Overwhelmed with excitement, he could not eat, or even drink his morning coffee yesterday.

All he could say was, “I’m getting my wheelchair today.”

The gift of a wheelchair which guarantees him safety and fewer injuries to his lower body was all thanks to a single Facebook post by Patsy Wagner, of the Anti-Animal Cruelty League.

After she highlighted Cecil’s plight, scores of donors came forward.

And when a report appeared in The Herald, the family was inundated with calls from people wanting to help.

The all-terrain wheelchair was donated by Splitting Image Taxidermy owner Douglas Cockcroft.

Cecil’s grandmother, Rina Potgieter, 59, said the family was very excited and relieved.

“We are very excited – a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, because we worried constantly about him,” she said.

“We tried to get him a wheelchair but were told that it was R12 000 and that is money we don’t have.

“We have had a massive response – people from all over are phoning, asking to contribute.”

Cecil’s mother, Valdenecia Carelse, 32, joked that she was concerned the boy would not want to eat now that he had a wheelchair – as was the case when he had received a skateboard.

“From 8am until 7pm, he would want to be on the skateboard and he could not care less about food,” Carelse said.

Cecil could not wait to climb into his shiny red wheelchair, with about 40 residents cheering him on. He then took the brand-new wheelchair for a spin with the help of his mother and grandmother.

There are now plans to have a ramp built at his home.

Wagner said the public’s response had caught her by surprise.

“I was doing work in the area and when I saw this little boy sliding up and down here I thought, this child needs help,” she said.

“After I posted on Facebook everybody just jumped in and asked how they could help. Everyone has been great.”

Cockcroft, who delivered the wheelchair yesterday, said: “We gave him an all-terrain wheelchair because they last longer. As he grows, he will receive another wheelchair.”

He would not say how much the wheelchair cost.

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