A 6-year-old Olympia girl who has a rare brain disorder will be able to spend more time in the outdoors that she loves and sit at the table for family meals because an Olympia construction company and other groups have built an access ramp for her home.
Eva Carwell and Adam Swigert’s daughter Mia has lissencephaly, which means “smooth brain.”
“It affects her whole body, all her functions,” Carwell said. “We have to fully care for her.”
Mia uses a large wheelchair that is difficult to carry into the house. Mia’s caregivers would carry her from the house to the chair so she could go to school at Olympia’s McLane Elementary School or to appointments.
“Instead of having to carry her into the house, she’ll be able to come in her chair now,” Carwell said. “Instead of having to be on a pad or the couch, she’ll be able to sit at the table with us for meals — she can’t eat with us, but she can be with us.”
Mia is fed with a gastrostomy tube (also called a G-tube) inserted through the abdomen directly to the stomach. Mia can’t walk or speak, and her vision is impaired. Carwell stays home full-time and has some help with caregiving. Swigert is a cook at Capital Medical Center in west Olympia.
The ramp project began when a nurse at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma emailed an Olympia construction company. Michelle Campbell, administrative assistant for Mr. Do Right Construction, got the email.
“It said, ‘Look, we’ve got this severely disabled little girl, and they desperately need an ADA ramp,’ ” Campbell said.
“Given the type of wheelchair, it had to be wide,” she said. “It’s a small home and yard, so it’s a big ramp.”
Company owner Teresa Grimsley remembered the days when her son spent a lot of time at Mary Bridge and gave the project a thumbs up, saying her employees at A+ Services and Mr. Do Right could build the ramp to ADA code if materials could be found.
The construction workers will be paid for their time, Grimsley said.
Campbell organized the materials donation effort, and with donations from fellow employees, Home Depot in Olympia and City Gates ministries, raised more than $1,700. Prep work for the concrete was done last week, and the crew finished the job Saturday.
“Mia just loves being outside,” Carwell said. “She likes music. She likes her little sister when she’s not pestering her. She’s always liked musical toys and hearing music. She loves being cuddled; every day cuddle time with Daddy is a big part of her day.”
“We’ve been trying to get this for a little more than a year,” Carwell said. “It looks amazing, and they even planted flowers.”
“It’s just to make her life a lot simpler,” Grimsley said.