An online fundraiser is going a long way to helping Caroline Haugh gain her independence.
Miss Haugh (18), who has Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a genetic connective tissue disorder which causes daily joint dislocations, turned to the website givealittle.com in the hope of raising some funds for a new wheelchair.
The response was amazing, she said.
Miss Haugh needed $3800 for the electronic lightweight wheelchair she had her eye on, but the community exceeded that by $200.
“It was amazing. I didn’t think I would get $150 within the first few weeks,” she said.
“I was shocked when the first $20 came in.
“People were extremely generous and kind.”
Her stepfather, Phil Lewis, was also amazed by the community’s generosity.
“People you didn’t think could afford to give a lot, they still gave money,” he said.
“It’s overwhelming what people are prepared to do to help out.”
Miss Haugh, who lives in Geraldine and studies via correspondence, said it was likely she would have her new wheelchair by the end of the month and thanked the community for making that happen.
Her old wheelchair weighs 100kg, while her new one would tip the scales at just 20kg.
Mr Lewis said not only had the “give a little” concept helped improve her independence, it also raised awareness of her condition.
“People have an awareness now of what Caroline’s going through.”
Although Miss Haugh’s condition was challenging, it did not stop her from forging ahead with her passions in life, including art.
Miss Haugh was recently named the winner of the Aigantighe Art Gallery School Holiday Competition.
She entered a watercolour portrait titled Backyard Adventures, which took her about two weeks to complete, using a range of new techniques.
“[I have been doing art] for a few years now, but I really got into it in the last year or two. It’s sort of a family thing that I picked up,” she said.
“I don’t think there’s any of us that don’t paint.”
Miss Haugh also recently won the Te Rita Award through the YMCA for another of her portraits.