The Wisconsin Valley Union girl’s hockey team is reaching out to the hockey community to help a future teammate’s family.
Traeh Paulin is the younger sister of Nevaeh Paulin, a Wisconsin Rapids freshmen, who was unable to play with the Union this year due to transportation issues that prevented her from being able to attend practices & games.
Traeh, 12 years old, is a disabled young lady with Down Syndrome who is dependent upon a wheelchair. Rhonda, Traeh's mother, is a single mom who is now struggling with transporting Traeh without the aid of a wheelchair accessible vehicle. The cost of such a vehicle is excess of $20,000, not including the cost of installing the equipment needed to make it wheelchair accessible.
Diagnosed at seventeen weeks with Down Syndrome, Traeh was born prematurely at thirty-one weeks in severe distress. She was immediately put on a ventilator and given a very slim chance of surviving the night. Against all odds Traeh survived the night, but testing disclosed that she had suffered a grade IV stroke before delivery.
At three pounds, eight ounces Traeh was also born with two holes in heart, which have since healed. Traeh is heart spelled backward. She spent six weeks in the NICU before finally coming home. Rhonda, who had worked at Aspirus Hospital in Wausau until the day Traeh was born, was unable to return to work with the level of care Traeh required.
Sonia Dissanayake, a freshman for the Union, and former teammate of Nevaeh’s learned of the family’s dilemma and started a GoFundMe page as part of a school project.
When the Union team found out about Sonia’s project the entire team decided to help raise awareness of Traeh’s situation. Plans are underway to spread the word through the hockey community. Others in the hockey community have already begun to step forward. Marshfield youth coach Nelson Spindler worked with local auto dealer Matt Berrier of Auto Sales & Leasing to get the van needed at cost and waive all buyers fees. The county will pay for the installation of the equipment needed. The $20,000 goal is the challenge ahead.
For Union head coach Dan Bauer, this story strikes a personal chord. His twin daughter’s Elizabeth & Emily were both born at 32 weeks and each weighed less than four pounds. They also spent weeks in the NICU and came home on cardiac/respiratory monitors.
“When they come that pre-mature there are certainly no guarantees,” said Bauer, “It was easily the most stressful and emotional time in my life. Then in the incubators and you aren’t allowed to hold them or sure if they will make it through the night, it leaves a mark you never forget. There but for the grace of God, it is so true.”
The Union hockey family is asking the hockey community to do what they do so well, step up for those in need.
Bauer has faith in the hockey community, “This really isn’t something we can accomplish with some bake sales or car washes. We need everyone to reach out through social media and put Traeh’s story out there for everyone to see. This is a great cause and I am confident that the generosity of hockey families, teams their friends and businesses will rally to meet this challenge.”