Family raises funds for wheelchair-accessible van

Local couple's daughter has rare neuromuscular disease

  • Nov. 12, 2016 11:00 a.m.

Aaron and Kaiti Luyt are shown with daughter Layla.

Family and friends have rallied to raise funds towards a wheelchair-accessible van for a local couple whose two-year-old daughter has a rare genetic neuromuscular disease.

Aaron and Kaiti Luyt, a former Abbotsford couple who recently moved to Mission, are the parents of Layla, who was born with a condition that leaves her with little muscle tone.

She has a cortical visual impairment, which means that she can see but her brain is unable to interpret what she sees.

Layla gets her nutrition through a G-tube that is inserted through her abdomen, delivering nutrition directly to her stomach.

In Layla’s short life, hospital and hospice stays have been the norm.

Kaiti has been unable to return to work since Layla requires so much care and has numerous doctor’s appointments and therapy sessions. This has put some financial strain on the family.

The last few months have seen some positive changes, including the addition of an electric wheelchair to which Layla has adapted well. While this is positive, her aunt, Laura Severn, says that it has created other challenges for her parents.

“The wheelchair is great but they’re basically trapped in their home with it because it’s so big that it doesn’t fit in their car,” Severn said.

“On one hand, it gives Layla a measure of independence and it gives her parents rest, physically, because she gets heavier as she grows. But on the other hand, they can’t really go anywhere because of the size of the wheelchair.”

A base-model van with rear entry for a wheelchair costs approximately $50,000. The Luyts have applied to several charities for grants towards the cost of the van and are hoping to cover half the cost this way.

It’s hoped that several fundraisers will raise the other $25,000.

This includes a GoFundMe page (gofundme.com/laylavan) where people can make a donation toward the van.

Severn and other family members have also organized a burger-and-brew fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 20, which has sold out.

“We’re really encouraged by the way that people have already rallied around Layla and her parents and I’m really hopeful that we’ll be able to raise the money needed for the van,” Severn says. “It would really make a difference to Aaron and Kaiti – and to Layla too.”

For more information about supporting the family, contact Severn at 778-255-3118.

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