DEFIANCE, Ohio — The pandemic brought many things to a halt but not the generosity of our community.
A group of residents started a crowdfunding effort in Defiance last week to help Kaitlyn's Cottage purchase a specially-designed bicycle. Kaitlyn's Cottage is a non-profit that offers non-medical respite care for anyone with developmental disabilities of all ages.
"This will change, just like our daily lives here at Kaitlyn's Cottage," said Kelly Tony, program manager at the facility.
She said she's amazed but not surprised by the community's response.
"It has a carriage on the front, so somebody that can't pedal a bike or somebody that may use a wheelchair can be placed inside the carriage on the front," she said, "and enjoy that sensation of riding a bike."
Alesha Switzer, a Defiance resident and nurse practitioner at ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital, found out the facility was looking to purchase the bike. So she helped set up a fundraiser on Facebook and it quickly took off.
"24 hours we had enough to buy one bike," Tong said, "within 48 hours we had enough to buy multiple bikes and the fundraiser is just still building."
The fundraiser has collected over $15,000. Tong stressed the work they do is so important.
"Kaitlyn's Cottage is very unique. There are not enough Kaitlyn's Cottages," she said. "We allow for the caregivers to get a breather from the work that they do 24 hours a day, seven days a week but beyond that we try to have a lot of fun here."
Care is designed to be affordable with families only being charged a max of five dollars an hour. Tong said families come from out of county and even out of state. They offer games, community trips, a sensory room and most of all social interaction.
"There is an opportunity for them to hang out with friends and just be yourself," she said, "and not have to worry about all the pressures they have in their lives. They're here. They're excepted for who they are."
Kaitlyn's Cottage opened in 2012 on the campus of ProMedica Defiance Regional Hospital. And Tong said the community has never stopped building it up.
"These families, these individuals are so often underserved," she said, "and this is just a remarkable blessing in our community."
Tong said they rely solely on donations. The money from the fundraiser will be used to buy the bikes and to continue to offer the best care for patients.
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