Hello! My name is Denise Roeser, and I am the founder of Wheels For Kids, a 501(C)3 non-profit organization established in 2003 to provide wheelchairs to children with disabilities and their families who could not otherwise afford to purchase them.
I would like to tell you a little bit about what brought me here.
My daughter, Ashlee, born October 4, 1988 was growing seemingly without problems, but at 9 months of age, Ashlee was not progressing as she should. Ashlee was weak. We learned that she suffered from a condition known as Hypotonia Cerebral Palsy.
Ashlee’s father and I were working full-time, but did not make enough money for the five-day-a-week physical and occupational therapies, which cost over $100,000 per year. At the time we did not have health insurance. When we tried to obtain it, we discovered that pre-existing conditions were not covered.
Ashlee’s first manual wheelchair at age 2, which she quickly outgrew, cost $3,200. The costs for Ashlee’s therapies, braces and wheelchairs were so high that my husband and I could not financially support her. I quit my job, and my husband and I divorced in 1992 in order to qualify for Medicaid to shoulder Ashlee’s medical bills. However, we stayed a nuclear family.
We were told by the doctors that Ashlee would go from a crib, to a bed, to a nursing home and that would be her life. We refused to accept this, and vigorously championed her therapies. Ashlee has now had four wheelchairs totaling $36,000. Her current custom-made electric wheelchair cost $24,000 and most recently needed the seating to be refurbished at a cost of $3500.
This is why I established Wheels For Kids – to help middle class families with children with disabilities keep up with the progressive growth and cost of wheelchairs. I want to help the children who fall between the cracks. I hope you will join me on my journey.