When her daughter, Indie, was 9 months old, Kirsten Moser sought therapy for the little girl who was having difficulty standing.
High-top shoes didn’t help Indie, who has low muscle tone in her ankles. Nearly a year later, now 19 months old, Indie’s best option was supramalleolar orthosis (SMO) braces.
But they are more expensive than a new pair of shoes – running about $3,000.
“I was driving home and I called my husband and I just bawled when I told him about the cost of the braces. It was probably about three times the amount that I was expecting,” said Kirsten, who lives in Kimberly with her husband, Brooks, and three children.
The following day, Kirsten learned that she could apply for aid from the St. Luke’s Magic Valley Health Foundation’s Children with Special Needs Fund. She had not heard of the fund, but was eager to find any help. Kirsten wasn’t optimistic the application would be approved, but within a few days, it was.
Kirsten said the cost of the SMO braces would have drained their health savings account. The family was able to receive $1,000 for Indie, the maximum allowable, per year, through the fund – which they call “a huge relief.”
“When we found out the cost of the braces, we were worried about how we could pay for them on top of the cost of physical therapy,” Kirsten said. “This has helped tremendously.”
The Children with Special Needs Fund was established to provide financial support for special equipment, therapy, travel assistance, counseling, or respite care for medically and/or developmentally disabled children (ages 0-18) with specific needs that are not eligible for funding by insurance or other medical assistance.
“It’s a huge blessing to us and we want to share that with others,” Kirsten said.
The braces have already helped tremendously. The next day, even, Indie was more independent.
“Usually, we have to follow her around and stand her up and kind of make her walk – where now – she just gets up and walks,” Kirsten said. “Indie is now up and running. It makes me excited and so proud.”
Now, Indie, her twin brother, Jack and her 3-year-old brother, Max, get to play together in comfort.
Before it was difficult for Kirsten to see the twins together and not seeing them at the same level of motor skills development, and now, she said the kids are a little more inclusive with each other.
“For me, it’s exciting to see them all play together. Running outside together,” Kirsten said. “Playing on the trampoline together. We have a gated backyard. They can do their own thing and it’s nice to see them together.”
Kirsten wants more people to know about the foundation’s efforts, especially the Children with Special Needs Fund. While they aren’t sure how long Indie will need braces, they are appreciative for the generosity of the foundation and its donors.
“I feel so blessed, honestly,” Kirsten said. “I feel so grateful that people are willing to donate to help people like me and my family. … This was honestly such an easy process. It felt like I asked for help and it was immediately given. So, thank you for that.”
Michelle Bartlome is the public relations manager at St. Luke's Magic Valley.