Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pet business a godsend for Kansas woman with CP who is on a long waiting list for state assistance


She may not be able to talk or walk, use her arms or even see, but 22-year-old recent Free State High graduate Lisa Willard (pictured) is now the proud owner of a new business called Paws Pleas.

Patty Meyer, Willard’s foster mother for the past 20 years, came up with the idea for the pet product business, after learning Willard, who has cerebral palsy, was not going to be immediately eligible for state aid.

“She was going to have to go on the waiting list,” said Meyer. “I think her number is something like 2035 she would not have even gotten services until 2015.”

So they took matters into their own hands, or really into Lisa’s head. Using nothing but a head switch attached to her wheelchair, Willard operates the sewing machine while Meyer guides the fabric.

“It's really amazing to think she can do so much with so little,” she said.

And they’ll now be able to do even more, thanks to a $10,000 grant they received from the Kansas Council on Developmental Disabilities.

And while Willard and her foster mom admit business is a little slow, they’re hoping it will soon take off. After all, it’s all about more than making money. It’s something that could give Willard her independence.

“We knew we had to do something because she was going to want to have a good life and to be an active participant in the community,” Meyer said.