Fundraising Effort Attempts to Offset Cerebral Palsy Medical Costs

child on wheelchairCerebral palsy can cost a victim hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Lifelong medical care, corrective surgeries, assistive technologies, therapies, medications, home or vehicle modifications, education, and many other expenses can total over $1 million for the average family. For many families – including the family of Makayla O’Hara-Damon – fundraising efforts are an effective way to offset some of the costs of cerebral palsy.

Makayla’s Story

Makayla O’Hara-Damon was like thousands of other children in the U.S. – born with cerebral palsy. Makayla had severe cerebral palsy, which kept her in a wheelchair. At the age of five, Makayla was in a full-body cast with a special attachment to align her legs and help her hips develop properly. She suffered from numerous physical and neurological issues because of her condition, including scoliosis, cortical blindness, and quadriplegia.

Throughout her lifetime, Makayla had dozens of surgeries to correct muscle sprains and joint dislocations relating to her cerebral palsy. To help pay for Makayla’s many surgeries and treatments, the young girl’s grandmother and caregiver, Deborah Damon, engaged in a variety of fundraising efforts. Deborah adopted Makayla and her brother, Mikey, in 2010, from her son, who suffered from drug addiction. Makayla’s family started a Facebook page called the Makayla Mikey Fund to try to raise money for medical expenses and to keep everyone informed on their health issues.

When Makayla was five, her community went above and beyond to make sure she had everything she needed for a fulfilling and enjoyable life. After hearing about Deborah’s need to purchase a specialized vehicle to move Makayla around, the community in Owl’s Head, Massachusetts, organized a three-day benefit on Makayla’s behalf. The benefit included a yard sale and bake sale to help Deborah purchase the van she needed. Volunteers also collected pull tabs from cans, which Shiners Hospital can trade in to help purchase medical equipment.

The fundraising effort succeeded, and Makayla’s family had enough to purchase a specialized van and other things the family needed for medical reasons. Makayla went on to live another seven happy years with her family, before sadly passing away at the age of 12 on July 13th, 2018. Makayla passed away from cerebral palsy related health complications, surrounded by Deborah, her nurses, and other family members. Thanks to fundraising efforts within the community, however, Makayla had all the medical care she needed throughout her life.

How to Pay for Cerebral Palsy Medical Costs

Makayla’s family hopes her story spreads awareness about cerebral palsy, and helps other families dealing with the condition to discover ways to offset related medical costs. Families struggling with cerebral palsy may turn to many different outlets for financial relief, from scholarships and health insurance to personal injury lawsuits. Fundraising can be life-changing for people living with cerebral palsy.

If you know someone who could benefit from a cerebral palsy fundraiser, spread the word in your community. Start a Facebook page about the family in need of assistance, as in the case of Makayla O’Hara-Damon. Post flyers throughout your community announcing your desire to organize a fundraiser or sale on the family’s behalf. Take your case to local churches, schools, and businesses to see if anyone can help. Fundraising efforts can raise the money a family needs to pay for important surgeries and live-in nursing.

Aside from organizing fundraisers, a family dealing with cerebral palsy may also want to explore their potential legal options. If medical malpractice or another form of negligence caused the child’s brain damage and cerebral palsy, the family could have grounds for a civil case against the at-fault party. A successful personal injury claim could result in a settlement or verdict to cover the costs of lifelong medical expenses, disabilities, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages. A claim could give a family the money they need to move forward.

When to Talk to a Lawyer

If a doctor recently diagnosed your child with cerebral palsy and you are worried about how to offset the costs, you have options. Medicare and Medicaid may offer disability benefits for you and your child’s medical needs. Your child may also qualify for different scholarships and programs to help pay for medical expenses and other costs. If you believe you may have the right to file a civil claim on your child’s behalf, don’t hesitate to talk to a lawyer about your case.

Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so you will not have to pay anything to get a professional legal opinion. Many firms also offer their services on a contingency-fee basis, meaning you’ll have no out-of-pocket expenses. These firms only charge attorney’s fees if they win a settlement or verdict on the client’s behalf. If they do win, the firm will take its fees directly from the financial award won. That way, no money ever comes from the family’s pockets. Speak to a lawyer as soon as possible if you have reason to think someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to your child’s cerebral palsy.