Artemii Koliev

Artemii Koliev

Local support spreads smiles overseas

Artemii Koliev is a five-year-old boy from Urkraine who has spastic cerebral palsy

Efforts that began in Coldstream to help a young boy in Ukraine have come to a happy ending.

Artemii Koliev is a five-year-old boy from Vyshgorod, Urkraine, a community just north of Kiev. He has spastic cerebral palsy and does not speak, stand, walk or sit unsupported.

“Medical treatment in Ukraine is limited so my wife, Jen, and I decided to try and help in some way to make his and his family’s lives just a bit more comfortable,” said Ed Drozda, of Coldstream, who is a cousin of the family.

“After over two-and-a-half years of ups and downs and with much support from organizations, family and friends we have completed our effort and we couldn’t be any happier with the results.”

Their efforts were met with kindness and care, specifically from two special organizations and kind and caring friends.

“The Vernon Shrine Club and in particular, Jan Loos, Lew Rossner and Jake Terpstra, were the driving force to get the Shriners Hospital in Montreal to accept Artemii as a patient for assessment,” said Drozda.

The Vernon Shrine Club was also there to help with costs faced in bringing the family to Canada and looking after living costs during the two-week assessment period. Bannister Honda, friends and family also donated funds to help. And Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes and his office also assisted with a difficult hiccup during the journey.

Once in Montreal, everyone at the Shriners Hospital were kind, friendly and caring.

“Oksana was overcome with emotion at how everyone was helping,” said Drozda, as she observed how she did not have to stand in line with people yelling all around her.

Assessments determined that Artemii would never walk but that he was a smart boy and the family should concentrate their efforts on advancing his communication skills.

Surgery was ruled out, but medication was prescribed which is already showing results, and vaccinations and a round of booster shots were given.

The Shriners then had a wheelchair custom-fitted to Artemii, which he is expected to get at least five years of use from. They also provided him with a special toilet/shower seat.

“We have heard from his mother that Artemii, unlike in the past, now really enjoys his shower,” said Drozda.

Another group which was vital to the cause was the Lions Clubs of Montreal, which stepped in to pick up the costs of accommodation, meals and transportation during an additional five-week stay that was required.

“In particular, Gil, a Deux-Montagnes Lions membe,r gave them lodgings in his home for the entire period,” said Drozda. “He took them to those appointments still outstanding. He took them to a nearby school for disabled children where Artemii was able to try some of their equipment while Oksana picked up knowledge on how to work with the children.”

The Lions clubs even put together an early birthday party for Artemii which was attended by a bout 50 adults and children.

Just prior to the family’s departure, the Lions also gave Artemii a computer tablet similar to one he had used with some success while there.

“The generosity of the Lions Clubs of Montreal, freed up some funds donated by friends and family so we purchased Artemii a special computer program to advance his communication skills along with a basic stand-alone button communication device,” said Drozda.

There were also funds to give Oksana to take back with her for the purchase of a stander in Europe. A stander assists with circulation, digestion and general well-being.

“Artemii tried one at the special school and this was the first time in his life that he was standing on his own,” said Drozda.

As events unfolded, there were many thank you’s and tears from Oksana.

“She was extremely grateful for everything that was done to help her son and just could not believe that people who didn’t even know them would do something like that,” said Drozda.