A bright young girl with a rare medical condition is set to travel the world ticking items off her bucket list- thanks to her determined mum and the generosity of strangers.
11-year-old Beth Cooper-Wares was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type III, a severe form of brittle bone disease, which has meant that simple tasks such as walking, changing, or even moving the wrong way regularly leave her with broken bones.
Beth’s mum Katie decided that her daughter needed a ‘boost’ before facing the major surgery scheduled in her teenage years to help her mobility, and came up with a plan to help Beth see the world and empower her for the future.
Katie, a 32-year-old single mother from Stanwell Park in Sydney, woke up one morning and decided that her daughter should experience the best life had to offer while she could.
Since she was born, already with broken bones, Beth has had over 35 major breaks, and has spent months of her life in and out of hospital in single or sometimes even full body casts.
Beth has limited mobility because of her condition, and gets around in her wheelchair which she and her mum decided to opt for rather than continue pushing Beth to walk.
With the daunting surgery in the future, Katie launched a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise enough money to take Beth overseas and cover the high costs of taking her on some ambitious adventures.
The 11-year-old, who is a talented writer and is planning to blog about her experiences, wants to swim with turtles, ride in a hot air balloon at sunset, see a show on Broadway, see elephants in the wild, have a mud bath in China, volunteer to teach English in India, and wheel through Pine Forests in Scotland.
Some of her other wishes are much simpler, including eating croissant in Paris, lying in a field of sunflowers, eat fish and chips by the seaside, have a white Christmas, and get a henna tattoo.
One of the reasons Katie is so determined to give Beth this experience is because she is still small enough for Katie to carry around on her hip, as Beth no longer walks on her own due to the high frequency of her bones breaking.
Beth is also due to start high school this year, and Katie recognised that her daughter would be leaving the comfort of her small-town primary school.
‘I think kids just look at things so much more simply than we do. When she first started school the children in her class saw her wheelchair and said “wow, what’s that”, asked a few questions and that was it,’ Katie said.
‘One thing I always say to Beth there is no kind of perfect being. We all have imperfections and issues, that’s ok and you just do the best you can,’ Katie said
‘They just didn’t see her as having a disability, they’d change things around so that she was always included,’ she said.
‘But Beth is turning 12 this year and it’s hard enough being a woman surrounded by media that tells you to be perfect, let alone if you’re someone with any difference,’
‘She’s a cool kid and really smart and creative, and I think a bit of a boost and some life experience will means she’s better able to prepare herself for what comes next’.
The pair were meant to head off to their first stop in London over the weekend, but a broken bone saw them spend their time in the emergency room instead of on a plane.
They have postponed their trip until next month and will head directly to Paris, where a generous donor has offered them a room to stay in for a fortnight.
For the time being, Katie and Beth are staying at Katie’s sisters house, as they sold all their belongings to head on the trip, which they anticipate will take about 18 months to complete.
‘We’ve got Beth’s wheelchair and we’ve sold everything that we own, including our car. We’re all set to go and have a bag of clothes and her flute and my guitar as we’re planning on busking overseas, and that’s all we have which is cool’.
Katie said she and Beth have been so overwhelmed with the generosity of people they haven’t met, and are both keen to give back from their experience and keep their situation in perspective.
‘I’ve learnt from this whole trip that people do want to give and are very kind,’ Katie said.
They have had offers of housesitting and rooms for a few weeks in spots all over the world which they hadn’t considered when making the list but are very excited to visit.
‘It’s not enough to just ask for help and not be grateful and not give back. No matter what you need in your life there are people who are worse off and suffering and sad,’ she said.
‘So I don’t really know what will happen but we’ve put our faith in the kindness of strangers and I have a really good feeling that it will all evolve naturally the way it should’.
While Katie is passionate about seeing changes for those living with disabilities, she said she is acutely aware of ensuring that Beth earns her stripes for who she is a person, rather than for her condition.
‘What’s frustrating is that having a disability is not what makes you brave. I don’t like the fact that people tend to hone in on the disability rather than the person,’ Katie said.
‘Beth is an amazing writer and very funny and I want her to hone her skills in those areas so she can do whatever she wants to do, and in the meantime bring some attention to what is going on in the world,’ she said.
‘One thing I always say to Beth there is no kind of perfect being. We all have imperfections and issues, that’s ok and you just do the best you can,’
‘Don’t compare yourself to some kind of unattainable perfect being because you’ll end up living someone else’s life. Live the life you’ve been given and move forward.’
To donate to Beth’s adventure, please visit her GoFundMe page.
Source: Daily Mail