Young Rockland boy receives wheelchair ramp
Rockland — It was a whirlwind weekend for the Robbins family of Rockland as one side of their home took on an entirely new appearance.
Paden Robbins, 5, the youngest member of the family, is reliant on a wheelchair due to a pair of co-occuring, and rare, illnesses. He looked on with interest at the hammering, sawing and drilling as he sat with his mother in the sunshine. Not shy, Paden reaches out for a handshake after one is offered to his mother, and laughs readily at many things, including a young girl performing cartwheels.
"This is pure excitement," Tracy Robbins, Paden's mother, said.
A crew from McMahon Builders arrived at the Robbins' house on Pleasant Street just after 8 a.m. to begin construction of a wheelchair ramp to replace steps leading into the home. Installation of the ramp will allow Robbins to use Paden's wheelchair to get him inside the house.
"I've been carrying him up and down the stairs," she said, shrugging her shoulders and describing her multiple failed rotator cuff surgeries. " ... we had to leave the wheelchair at school because it's too heavy."
Until a year ago, Paden was still able to walk, Robbins said, but the diagnosis of Vacterls — sometimes referred to as Vater syndrome — soon after his birth and the more recent diagnosis of Vanishing White Matter disease has confined him to a wheelchair most of the time. His mother stated matter-of-factly his life expectancy is early teens at best.
"We're going to take it one day at a time and live life to the fullest," she said with a big grin. "[Paden] doesn't like to sit still, he likes to play."
As the McMahon crew continued to work, Robbins' parents — Paden's grandparents — dutifully scrubbed the sides of the house clean, wiping away accumulated dirt on the north side of the house revealed when a shed was moved.
"Everybody has been so awesome from the start," Robbins said, looking around.
She started the process the day before by cleaning out a shed that was sitting next to the steps and house. It was relocated to another part of the yard. The steps, by mid-morning on Saturday, had been reduced in size and turned and the long, flat landing and corner of a deck for the ramp was already built and decked over. Just before noon, the angles for the ramp were being set and the ground leveled.
Robbins kept people, including out-of-state family, updated through the Facebook page, Prayers 4 Paden, throughout the day.
"We're really happy to be a part of it," Cheryl McMahon said as she worked alongside her daughter Caitlin McMahon to secure a railing.
The construction company is part of Maine Contractors and Builders Alliance; both organizations worked with Wheelchairs 4 Kids, a nonprofit organization that works nationally to provide access for children with physical disabilities. Several other local business made donations, including EBS, Hammond Lumber Co., E.L. Spear and Rankin's Hardware. Dominos Pizza of Rockland donated lunch for the crew, according to a press release from Wheelchairs 4 Kids.
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.
Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.