Topekans Build Ramp For Teenager Suffering From Rare Disease

By: Ariana Cohen Email
By: Ariana Cohen Email
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On Saturday, 13 News reported about Ashley Newman, a 16-year-old Highland Park sophomore suffering from a rare disease called Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, a neurological disorder which causes paralysis on parts of her body.

Ashley's father, Steven Newman, says she uses a wheelchair everyday and she is supposed to come home from Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City within 30 or more days, yet their house is not handicap accessible.

"It's definitely not wide enough. We definitely don't have enough room to where we can take the wheelchair and maneuver into the bathroom," said Steven Newman as he points to the hallways.

Tuesday, members of the Topeka community reached out to help. Rene Netherton heard about the 13 News story on Facebook, this is when she contacted owners of Front Door Catering who have a ramp. She asked her friends from Kickstart Saloon to help install it at the Newman's house.

"You do what you can for people that cant for themselves," said Rene Netherton.

Corrie Wright from the City of Topeka Department of Housing also heard about Ashley's story on 13 News. Wright says the city offers an Accessibility Program for low to moderate income families. The program will provide modifications to widening Ashley's doors in her bedroom and bathroom.

"It gives me chills thinking being able to assist people like that that are in such need. It's comforting to know that the Newman's don't have to worry about accessibility issues anymore 'cause we're able to step in and help with those issues," says Wright.

"It's just amazing how many people have come forward and the contacts. The people that are just going out of their way to help someone in need," says Newman.

And Steven says he looks forward to the day Ashley comes home.

"Ashley will really enjoy that people have come together. She would just go ecstatic over everyone just reaching out to help her," says Newman.

A Topeka teenager is suffering from a rare disease and her family is asking the for the community's support.

Ashley Newman is a Highland Park sophomore. She is 16-years-old, but her mother says her brain has the mental capacity of a 4-year-old.

Topekan parents, Steven and Karen Newman say when their daughter Ashley was born, they noticed something was wrong.

"She didn't cry like a normal baby, she didn't kick her legs like a normal baby," said Steven.

At 10-months-old, Ashley was diagnosed with a rare disease called Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood, a neurological disorder which causes paralysis on parts of her body.

Now, 16-year-old Ashely has been in Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City where recently she had an 11 hour seizure and had to be put in a medically induced coma. Since then, she has been in a full body paralyzed state for 7 weeks.

"And right now with her being paralyzed, it's just so hard. The little things that people take for granted she's not able to do," says Karen.

Ashley is unable to eat, drink, walk, talk, move her arms, legs and she has not even been able to hold up her own head. She currently has been fed through a g-tube.

"It's been a really really hard time. A lot of tears have been shed, a lot of prayers have been said," said Steven.

Her parents say she uses a wheelchair everyday and their house is not handicap accessible. They need a ramp put into place. They have received some donations but it hasn't been enough. They hope they can raise enough money so their house can be ready for Ashley to come home.

"She's had a smile on her face the whole time, she is amazing," says Karen.

Doctors say they don't know when Ashely can come home. It may take 30 or more days. The Newman's set up a fund called "Project Ashely Come Home" at CoreFirst Bank and Trust which has 13 Topeka locations.

There are fewer than 800 known cases of Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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