Disabled First Nation woman to get all-terrain stroller needed to get around on reserve

A disabled First Nations woman confined to her home on a central Alberta reserve will be getting the all-terrain stroller she desperately needs, thanks to the success of an online fundraiser.

'She had the biggest smile I've ever seen on her'

Thanks to the success of an online fundraiser, Dee Dee House's family will be purchasing her the all-terrain stroller she needs to venture outside of her house and traverse the rough roads of her reserve. (Mildred House)

A disabled First Nations woman confined to her home on a central Alberta reserve will be getting the all-terrain stroller she desperately needs, thanks to the success of an online fundraiser.

After being told the $2,500 adult, special-needs stroller would not be paid for by federal or provincial agencies, Mildred House began raising the money through Facebook. 

"I was expecting for myself to be fundraising for months," said House, whose 31-year-old cousin, Diedre Faye House,  — fondly known as Dee Dee — is unable to walk or talk because of a brain injury as a baby.

"I didn't think I was going to get the money so fast." 

She'd previously run 50/50 draws, raising only $660, but within hours of a CBC story about Dee Dee, donations began pouring in. Before the family had the chance to shut it down, they'd raised $3,434. 

They've set up a medical equipment consultation for Wednesday, which is the first step toward getting the stroller.

"It will help so much," House said. 

She said the extra money will go toward purchasing other items Dee Dee needs that are not covered and beyond financial reach, including a new car seat and potentially, accessories for the stroller, such as a tray.

Any leftover will be put into an account to help Dee Dee with unexpected future expenses, House said. 

Still no government support 

Dee Dee has a beat up old wheelchair that can't travel beyond the ramp from her house, which leads to grass, mud and Paul First Nation's unpaved roads.  

The ramp from Diedre Faye House's room lands outside in grass and mud. (Mildred House)

Despite that, neither Indigenous Services Canada nor Alberta Aids to Daily Living consider an all-terrain stroller an essential item. 

House said since Dee Dee's story came out, she has heard from neither agency. 

"I hope that when I do hear from them, that they're willing to change things or willing to hear us out on why its a need and not a want," she said. 

House said the family is grateful for the support.

"I'd like to say thank you to everybody who helped and donated to our fundraiser. My family greatly appreciates everything," she said. 

House was with her aunt, Dee Dee's mother, when she checked the status of the Facebook fundraiser. 

"We both kind of just sat their and cried happy tears," she said, adding that when she told her cousin, Dee Dee was elated. "She was just saying, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah!' And she had the biggest smile I've ever seen on her, on her face." 

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell