STOW, Ohio (WJW) – Nine-year-old Valentina Gennarelli uses her purple walker to get around every day at Echo Hills Elementary, but on Tuesday, it went missing while she was about to get on the school bus.
“It’s like taking away her legs,” her mom, Gabriella Gennarelli, said.
Valentina has cerebral palsy, so she either uses a wheelchair for long distances or her walker for anything else. When her walker went missing, it caused a major problem for the family.
“This is her only way to keep her muscles loose and moving in the right way,” Gabriella said. “You take away her ability to walk. And there’s so many delays in ordering medical equipment. I didn’t know when we would have a walker again.”
Her mom took to Facebook in hopes that someone would see the post and return the walker. She suspects someone mistook it for scrap.
Quickly, the Stow-Munroe Falls School District shared the news on Facebook, too. Soon after, it went viral – more than 1,000 people shared the post and dozens offered to chip in to buy a new walker.
“All these people reaching out and trying to find ways to help,” Principal David Ulbricht said. “It was kind of overwhelming in the best possible way. It was very faith-restoring to know that there’s so many people going out of their way to try and help this little girl.”
That’s how Miller’s Medical Supply found out about the incident. It just so happened that one purple walker was in stock. Akron Rehab Manager Jessica Nicolard knew they had to help, donating the new walker to the family.
“It’s really one of the biggest things that we enjoy about working for Miller’s,” Jessica said. “We’re able to help clients every day. The favorite part about my day is getting to work with the kiddos and help the kids. I don’t often get to see the kids receive their equipment, so coming out and being able to see her receive it is definitely very exciting for me.”
Both the family and the school district are happy to see a wrong made right, thanks to the kindness of others.
“We impress people by our strengths, but we connect with people when we’re weak,” Gabriella said. “That’s just been an amazing experience and it just kind of renews my faith in humanity. We can all come together and help someone who is disadvantaged.”
A replacement chair would have cost around $400 out-of-pocket for the Gennarelli’s, but for Valentina having her independence back, that’s something that’s priceless.