Mother, daughter wheelchair pair stronger together

With all that is happening in the w orld, there are still people who want to make a difference in the lives of others and five-year-old Justin McKane is one of them.

He is the son of 25-year-old Sasha McKane and grandson of 54-year-old Vinette Green who are both living with a debilitating condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta — more commonly known as ‘brittle bone disease’.

The athletic five-year-old, who was not born with the condition, has joined the family tradition of participating in the annual Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run, following the ‘wheels’ of his mother and grandmother. His energetic nature and compassion for his mother was evident yet again during the recently held 5.5-kilometre Invitational Road Race in Kingston. For the second year in a row, Justin was a highlight of the notable event, seen running whilst pushing his physically challenged mother along the race route. He is considered by some as the ‘superhero’ of the unconventional family of three.

“We ran really fast and won two trophies! I feel happy when I run with my mother and I love her,” said Justin.

Vinette, a 10-time participant, and Sasha, a four-timer in the wheelchair category, have become a staple of the over two-decade-old charity event which has now raised close to $500 million to benefit local child-based health care and educational needs.

Sasha admitted that her son tries to be her little protector as they face constant discrimination as well as severe mobility challenges in a world where opportunities for the physically challenged are not always readily available. Sasha said he does not like when people make fun of her and call her names.

Despite their challenges, Sasha tries to teach her son to be strong but respectful – especially of those who are physically challenged. “He wants to be a soldier like his father, and I teach him to go for his dreams.”

People with brittle bone disease are more prone to fractures throughout their lifetime; Sasha, herself, has had more than 10 surgeries to repair breaks and fractures all over her body. Her mother, a former member of the Jamaica Paralympic Association, recounted that while struggling to raise her daughter, she would have to “draw” her — a term used to describe how Sasha holds on to the rear of her mother’s wheelchair as a means of transportation; “She not as strong as me, so I have to draw her.”

Nonetheless, Sasha tries to be as active as possible which helps to build her strength and reduce the risk of future fractures. “Since COVID we stay inside as much as possible. Since we live at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre, we try to move around the yard to help strengthen our bones and combat the other symptoms such as shortness of breath. So, we are glad for the Sigma Run. It is a good way for my mother and I to exercise so we try to participate every year. The people at Sagicor treat us good,” said Sasha.

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