Thieves shrink world for 19-year-old in Comox Valley

Kaitlyn Henderson has just graduated and started the Satori Lifestyle Resources program for adults with disabilities.
It should be an exciting time in her life.
Instead, the 19-year-old is stuck at home and can't access the program.

KAITLYN HENDERSON HAS had her studies interrupted after her wheelchair lift van was stolen last week.

KAITLYN HENDERSON HAS had her studies interrupted after her wheelchair lift van was stolen last week.

Kaitlyn Henderson has just graduated and started the Satori Lifestyle Resources program for adults with disabilities.It should be an exciting time in her life.Instead, the 19-year-old is stuck at home and can’t access the program.Kaitlyn has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around, and last Sunday evening, her wheelchair lift van was stolen.”It’s like taking a blind person’s seeing-eye dog,” said Paula Henderson, Kaitlyn’s mother. “We need it. She can’t go anywhere. She can’t go out in the community at all. She just started at Satori, and they have lots of great programs, and she can’t do any of it.”Henderson graduated from Mark R. Isfeld Secondary School at the end of June, and she recently started an adult program at Satori Lifestyle Resources.”It was going to be so fun for her, and now she’s going to be held back,” said Paula. “It’s just the beginning, and it’s just getting ripped away from her.”At Satori, program participants go on different outings in the community, such as picnicking and going out for lunch, and they do activities such as clay work, explained Jackie Beek, Kaitlyn’s aide.Kaitlyn was supposed to go camping in Qualicum Beach for four days with the group, but now she has no way of getting down there.”She’s just starting with her life,” said Paula. “Now, she’s stuck here. Poor kid. I don’t know what we’re going to do.”The van is a white 2002 Dodge Ram 2500 with a wheelchair lift. It has tinted back windows, and the licence plate is 395 KBV.At about 6 p.m. Sunday, two males were observed getting into the rear of the white van outside Satori Lifestyle Resources on Puntledge Road in Courtenay, according to a news release from the Comox Valley RCMP.It then appeared one of them managed to start the vehicle, and together, they drove off, noted the release.The suspects are described as a tall Caucasian male and a First Nations male, according to the RCMP.On Wednesday, Paula was still shocked that someone would steal their van.”It makes me feel sick to my stomach,” she said.The Henderson family does have access to a grant through the Giving in Action Society to help purchase a new van, but the grant covers only half the cost of a van with a wheelchair lift, which Paula says costs about $40,000.Paula is hoping that when people or local service clubs, businesses or organizations hear their story, they might be able to share some suggestions for fundraising to buy a new van, or somebody might know someone who has a lift van that they aren’t using right now.”We need to do something,” she said. “Kaitlyn, she needs it. She can’t go to swimming or to physio without it. I don’t know what we’re going to do without a van.”The Hendersons have had the van for eight years, and it was in excellent shape and had low kilometres, noted Paula.”It would have lasted her for along time still,” she said. “I just hope something comes out of it because she needs a van. She can’t live without a van — well, she can, but it’s tough for her.”Until Kaitlyn’s van is found or the Hendersons can purchase or borrow a new one, they can use the handyDART, but only for a few days because it is fully booked, explained Paula.After that, they don’t know what to do.It’s a long walk from their home to Satori Lifestyle Resources — especially in the heat, as Kaitlyn doesn’t do well in heat, and it can cause seizures, noted Paula.Anyone locating the Hendersons’ van is asked not to approach the vehicle but to contact the RCMP at 250-338-1321.If anyone has any suggestions for fundraising, they can contact Paula Henderson at paulah1003@gmail.com.writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com