Vernon family gets a new ride to accommodate their daughters who have Type 2 Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia

A bus load of happiness

Victoria Femia

A GoFundMe campaign was launched in March to raise money so a family in Vernon would be able to purchase a new wheelchair accessible van for their two young girls, Ana and Zaria Chirkoff, who were diagnosed with Type 2 Pontocerebellar Hypoplasia.

A few months later, the family got more than they bargained for.

They purchased a wheelchair accessible bus to accommodate the needs of both Ana and Zaria.

It means they are able to travel safely with a team of caretakers, the girls’ medication, their equipment and any other necessities required for travel.

“This bus is absolutely life-changing for us and our family. Before we were able to get the girls, but we were so limited in how far we can travel,” said Cathy Chirkoff.

The girls' condition is rare. It affects the development of the brain, and can often be fatal in young children. It causes epilepsy to be frequent and causes them to very easily injure themselves.

Things as simple as the girl needing to go to the bathroom would be a struggle for the family with the old van. Now, the girls can be changed on the bus without stopping, allowing for more of a worry-free car ride.

Parents Victor and Cathy are pleased with their daughters' reaction to their new ride.

“They love it, and it has a great sound system so they do love a good karaoke road trip. They just love road trips, they love being together with us and singing,” said Cathy.

Getting the girls buckled into their older van was creating a lot of issues for Ana and Zaria as well as their parents and caretakers.

“It was getting to a point where things weren’t great on it, we were kind of worried whether we were going to make it back from places,” said Cathy.

“People were getting injured trying to get the girls locked in the van because we kind of had to do these crazy yoga moves to get them locked down in the van safely, and people were hitting their heads, getting bruises.”

The family received an overwhelming amount of support from the community to make this happen.

“It really was an overall community support that we felt. …We’re just really blessed,” said Victor.

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