by Lisa Nicita – Jan. 12, 2009 07:30 AM
Special for the Republic
Fuzzy, pink wings were strapped to a motorized, leather chair parked at the top of Brittani Spight’s staircase.
The wings were a symbol of Spight’s newfound freedom. Spight, 19, of Queen Creek, would now be able to go up and down the stairs without waiting for her stepfather to carry her.
“It’s awesome,” Spight said, seated in a pink-trimmed wheelchair.
Spight has the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona to thank. The foundation, which grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, worked with Active Mobility to negotiate a special price for the chair and get it installed.
Spight couldn’t be happier.
Cancer had taken away her freedom and independence.
What began as an unexplained sore back, and curious diagnosis of asthma in 2005, turned into a massive, aggressive spinal tumor. The tumor was removed, but not before it chipped away at Spight’s spine, causing it to collapse in 2007.
About six months after surgery to repair her spine, Spight suffered a spinal cord stroke, which left her paralyzed at the waist.
For Tami Staple, Brittani’s mom, the whole ordeal has been overwhelming. But, the family is finding its way.
“We’re really okay, we are,” Staple, 37, said. “She’s the one that really carries us.”
Spight’s illness has slowed her down. But, not much.
She is continuing chemotherapy, because the disease has spread to her lungs. But, with that hurdle, she is pushing ahead with her education.
She is ready to begin her second semester of college, hoping to get a degree as a medical assistant and one day work at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. And, like any teenager, Spight is never far from her iPod and cellphone.
With her new chair, Spight is now able to enjoy the master suite that was built for her, before her diagnosis, in the family’s basement. She had been living upstairs because it was too much of a hassle to wait to be carried up and down the stairs.
Staple can’t help but be proud of her daughter.
“She’s so strong,” she said. “I wanted to feel sorry for her, but she fusses at me.”
After Spight cut the pink ribbon on her new chair, the family was able to fuss over her.
Lisa Nicita / The Arizona Republic
Brittani Spight, 19 of Queen Creek, rides in her new motorized chair lift down the stairs.
Making wishes come true
What: Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona.
Mission: Grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Cost: The average wish costs the foundation about $7,000 to grant.