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Outpouring of donations for disabled Dunmore boy who had GoKart stolen, damaged
Times-Tribune - 9/11/2022
Sep. 11--DUNMORE -- Answering a knock Saturday morning on the door of his Wheeler Avenue home, James Orr expected a landscaper. But the visitor was borough resident Al Senofonte bearing a checkbook.
Senofonte read an article in The Times-Tribune that morning about how a customized go-kart of Orr's disabled son, Cayden Nestorick-Orr, 12, was stolen from the Orrs' front porch a week ago and found damaged a day later in South Scranton. Cayden has spina bifida and cannot walk.
Orr did not know Senofonte. Asking how much a new go-kart would cost, Senofonte said he wanted to pay for it. Orr did not know the cost, as the go-kart was a gift last year from Cayden's school community, the Dunmore Elementary Center. Orr guessed a new one would cost around $1,000, but said he did not need or want a donation.
Refusing to take no for an answer, Senofonte wrote a check for $1,000 and gave it to Orr.
"I said, 'I can't take it from you.' He said, 'It's not for you, it's for Cayden,' " Orr recounted, noting he accepted it.
Senofonte later said he was moved by Cayden's story because the go-kart was his way to ride around with his siblings on their bicycles and to interact with classmates.
"All I said to him was how much for a new one and he said about $1,000. I cut him a check. It was no big deal," Senofonte said. "I was glad to do it. The story kind of touched me because that was his (Cayden's) way to get around."
It was one example of an outpouring of offers of donations generated by the news article, Orr said.
"We are so grateful for all of the support," Orr said, but stressed they do not want any more donations.
Orr asks anyone wanting to donate to instead send donations in Cayden's name to Camp Spifida, 196 Rose Lane, Port Trevorton, PA 17864, which is a summer camp he attends, or to St. Joseph'sCenter, 2010 Adams Ave., Scranton, PA 18509.
The customized, cherry-red Razor go-kart was a surprise gift to Cayden from Dunmore Elementary Center teachers, therapists and students at the end of the 2021 school year, just before his 11th birthday.
Cayden, who normally used a wheelchair, made the most of his new set of wheels. He enjoyed cruising down Dunmore sidewalks, riding to the nearby Riccardo's Market and racing his six siblings in the alley behind their home. Before the go-kart, he had to sit on the porch and watch.
His nurse, Martie Malaker, and occupational therapist, Stephanie DeNaples, coordinated the kart's customization. They worked with Jerry Williams, a Dunmore resident who uses a wheelchair and specializes in adaptive equipment for people with disabilities. Williams donated his time to stabilize the go-kart's seat for more core support and cushioning and added padding to the side bars, among other upgrades.
"We came up with this idea to increase his mobility but also his social interactions with the community," DeNaples said. "He went from being a kid on the outside to being right there in the mix. It helped his self-esteem, his feeling of belonging."
Four weeks ago, Cayden underwent surgeries two days apart. He has not ridden the go-kart since before the surgeries and is still recuperating.
The go-kart was kept on the front porch as usual, behind a wheelchair lift device. But on Monday morning, his dad noticed the go-kart was gone. He contacted police and put a post on Facebook to get the word out.
"When it went missing, it was heart-wrenching for the whole school," DeNaples said.
On Tuesday, a family friend saw two boys on the go-kart in South Scranton. The boys said someone gave it to them. The Orr family got it back, but it was damaged.
Orr charged the battery and said the motor appears to work. Some pieces of the vehicle were removed, and he's not sure if the frame or suspension were damaged. He contacted DeNaples about getting Williams to look it over for repairs.
Because Cayden is growing, DeNaples suggested that perhaps they customize a new go-kart for him, and repair the old one and donate it to a different child. A new kart could cost about $500 and the customization, depending on what that entails, could bring the total cost to $1,000 to $1,500, she estimated.
"We were wondering if it's time to get him in something that's a little bigger and then donate this one to someone else. We're going back and forth. We're not sure," she said.
As the custom go-kart has been such a success with Cayden, DeNaples hopes to do the same for other disabled youths. Last year, she started "We Ride NEPA" on Facebook to promote adapting motorized recreational vehicles for children with disabilities, but the page largely has been dormant. She hopes it now gets a boost.
"It would be great if it (Cayden's story) kind of jump-started it for other kids," DeNaples said.
Contact the writer: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5185; @jlockwoodTT on Twitter.
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