Flathead mother gives back with foundation
KALISPELL, Mont. - Sabrina Wisher-Dewitt's journey began when her daughter, Mikayla, was diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome when she was only 2 1/2 months old. Doctors said she would only live to age 1, but now Mikayla is 26.
Her license plate reads "NO GIVN UP," a motto she lives by day in and day out.
"We keep going, and we are not going to give up," she said.
In 2012 Wisher-Dewitt was denied by the state a special bed for Mikayla to keep her safe. She was getting tangled in the hospital bed she had then and needed a SleepSafe Bed, which cost about $9,000.
"They told me to put my daughter on the floor, on a mattress," said Wisher-Dewitt.
After Medicaid said no to her four times the community rallied behind Wisher-Dewitt to help raise money for the bed. Through donations and raffles they raised $26,000 dollars for the bed, but when she went to buy it the company donated the bed to her.
"They were so moved by my story they blessed me with the bed," said Wisher-Dewitt.
She used the money to help other families needing equipment for their disabled children by creating the foundation Mikayla's Miracles and Blessings.
Jennifer Lugenbeel works for Norco, which is a company that helps disabled individuals get equipment they need through their insurance. She fought Medicaid with Wisher-Dewitt to try to get the bed. When that fell through and led to her creating the foundation Lugenbeel knew it was what Wisher-Dewitt was meant to do.
"With her big, kind, generous heart that's all she could think of. How do I help -- how do I turn around and, you know, move this forward," said Lugenbeel.
Her family was already giving before, using their auto-recycling business to donate a van a year to families in need. One of those families was Leanne Dillree and her daughter, Patia. For them that van has made all the difference.
"It changed our whole world. We can actually go places and do things," said Dillree.
Wisher-Dewitt knew what it was like being denied and what something as simple as a van can do.
"I've been that single mom. I've been in need, and I have the ability to help someone, absolutely," said Wisher-Dewitt.
She has now donated seven beds and wants to grow the foundation to donate two vans a year, but her main goal is for families with disabled children or adults to not feel they are limited.
"I'm not here to handicap my daughter, and I think that's what society does sometimes -- they handicapped them. I am here to make sure that quality of life, they can do it all," said Wisher-Dewitt.
Her strength and story inspired Gov. Steve Bullock enough to nominate her Mother of the Year for Montana in 2014. Now she gets to serve on the board and help pick the other Mothers of the Year.
"It's just what I do," said Wisher-Dewitt.
You can find more information about Wisher-Dewitt's story here.