03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Orlando 7th-Grader With Brittle Bone Disease Denied New Wheelchair Lift

As part of its Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up compelling local stories about the victims of the recession.

Twelve-year-old Simon Dharmakirthi, of Orlando, Fla., has Brittle Bone Disease, which makes his body highly vulnerable to even the slightest pressure. David Martin reports for Fox 35 News that the wheelchair lift on the back of the seventh-grader's family's car is broken, which makes it difficult for his mother to attach his wheelchair and drive him around. To repair their existing unit costs $1,000, but to get a brand new wheelchair that would last for five years would total $1,600.

His insurance will not cover the cost, though, and his father lost his job three months ago, which has put the family under financial strain. Until they can afford a new chair, Dharmakirthi said, "my parents put me into the car seat, and that turns into a stroller." His mother added, "he feels like a little baby when we go places."


Jeremy Aicher was shorted hundreds of dollars when he tried to use his county-issued EBT card to withdraw money from a US Bank ATM, reports the Redding, Calif. Record Searchlight's Amanda Winters. Aicher was trying to get cash assistance through the CalWORKs program, which provides cash assistance to struggling families in Shasta Co. He appealed to bank employees to get them to fix the error, but they told him that, since he did not have an account at the bank, there was nothing they could do.

"It couldn't come at a worse time," said Aicher, who has two children and lost his job earlier this week. He was persistent, though, and said that the bank wrote him a cashier's check Thursday, but only after spending all day talking with different offices and different departments. His problem is not rare, but the CalWORKs program manager admitted her office was mostly helpless.

The Record Searchlight also has a video of Aicher:


When Christopher Valles lost his job in Tucson, Ariz., he decided to turn his unemployment into a chance for personal growth, reports Jenny Anchondo for KOLD. Valles went to a weight-loss boot camp, and lost 50 pounds of fat over three months, a personal feat that he says mentally prepared him to get a new job. "The transformation gave me so much confidence that I actually got three job offers within three weeks of each other," he told KOLD.


Jeff, a former steel worker in St. Paul, Minn., who declined to give his last name, lost his job last January. In June his wife, Hannah, passed away from ovarian cancer. "Supporting someone who has cancer is very expensive," he told local WCCO's Darcy Pohland. "It's extremely expensive and we did everything we could for her."

The widower knew that he could not afford to feed his five children and keep them in their home and turned to his local food shelf. Pohland said that he is hopeful the new year will bring him a job, and refused to let the tragedy get the better on him.

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