Decency has lost a hold on the public imagination, Elvis is dead, and I’m not feeling great myself. So today, on this idle Wednesday in May, we’ve resolved to do something amazing for a girl who deserves to have something amazing happen to her.
Friedreich’s Ataxia is like a silent school bully. At 10 years old, Sydni was a perfectly normal grade school student. But for reasons she couldn’t explain, Sydni began losing her balance and coordination.
While other kids made fun of Sydni for being clumsy, Sydni sensed something far more sinister than teenage growing pains was to blame. Her older brother, Sam, had Friedreich’s Ataxia. While the likelihood of two children having FA was extremely rare, it wasn’t outside the realm possibility. A year later, the diagnosis arrived. It was FA. There is no known cure.
Over the summer of her sophomore year in high school, her FA started advancing. It progresses in women faster than men.
Sydni told me, “I knew I needed a wheelchair, and all of the sudden I was in a wheelchair and people didn’t know how to treat me. Everybody just stopped talking to me. I didn’t really have any friends after that.”
Sydni’s small Louisiana high school closed in around her. Now with a wheelchair and a noticeable change in her friends, things were difficult. “It didn’t get much better when I left school. The terrain in Louisiana is rough. Because of the flooding, most people have steps up to their house. Even when people invited me over, I couldn’t make it inside.”
Steps and dirt roads became Sydni’s tormentors. Her world was getting increasingly smaller.
College brought happiness into Sydni’s world. The open-minded students embraced Sydni. They found out she has a wicked sense of humor. “I was reserved and shy in high school. My new friends brought out my personality. In high school I was never invited anywhere. My college friends invited me everywhere.”
One night in particular, Sydni was invited to a party on campus. “FA is generally a physical disability and doesn’t affect cognitive functions; we have personalities just like everyone else. Oftentimes, people see a wheelchair and conflate it with a mental disability. The night I met my husband, Tony, he made the same assumption.”
“… But Tony was a quick study. More than that, he brought out the best in my personality. You could say it all worked out in the end.”
The wedding cake joystick is all-time.
Last month, we brought Sydni into theCHIVE HQ to show her something revolutionary, the iBot. The iBot wheelchair has revolutionized the power wheelchair. It can transgress gravel, snow, and curbs. But it can also do something no other wheelchair before has been able to do: it can climb up and down stairs independently.
“Going up and down the stairs at theCHIVE was insane.. but it was really fun. That was something I’d never had before. I instantly knew this would give me independence.”
At the end of the training session, Sydni wanted a beer to celebrate. We asked her what kind of beer she wanted? Sydni responded that she could take care of it herself.
“I never thought I could be a bartender, but here we are.”
But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? By purchasing Sydni’s iBot today, we’ll infinitely expand the possibilities. Her world will become as big as she wants it to be. There will be nothing to limit what Sydni can or can’t do… or where she can or can’t go.
So that’s what I think we should do today on this idle Wednesday in May. We should give a wonderful human being her freedom back. Making this happen wasn’t even technologically conceivable a few years ago. But the team at Chive Charities have stepped up, bringing the bleeding edge of technology to our doorstep. All we have to do now is get it up the stairs.
That’s where you come in — where you’ve always come in. The Chive Nation community are no strangers to changing lives. You’ve done it more than 565 times, and now it’s Sydni’s turn.
I don’t know about you all, but I think we’ll all sleep a little better tonight knowing we gave even $10 to help Sydni. On our Zoom call Sydni asked why we were doing this for her. Instead of giving some canned answer, I invited her to theCHIVE office today to SEE the answer for herself. To watch our community rally around you in real-time will show Sydni exactly why we’re doing this. This is theCHIVE.
The goal is set at $25,000. If anyone can bring a little more light to the world, it’s this community. And you can bet Sydni will use this to continue spreading the word about FA and showing people she’s so much more than her rare disease.
Let’s show her what theCHIVE is all about. Donate RIGHT HERE.
Editor’s note: This is brought to you by the people who lead the way: our Chive Charities monthly donors. Become part of the Green Ribbon Fund and continue changing lives, just like Sydni’s. Also, if you know anyone in need of a life-changing grant, we’re always looking for our next Sydni. Send them our way to APPLY HERE.
P.S. To follow along on Sydni’s progress, check her out on Instagram @sydnindupre. She brings that personality to life!