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March 25, 2011

03/28/11 Most children love to run and play outside this time of year, for 11-year-old Destiny Cartwright of Plymouth that is just not possible. Destiny is suffering from congestive heart failure caused by rheumatic fever so her play time outside is very limited.

Destiny is the child of Mike and Mewsette and is a fourth grade student at John Glen School Corporation. In January of 2010 she came down with joint pain in both ankles and could not walk without being carried or using a walker. For several months, the joint pain radiated throughout her entire body. The newest symptom, in what her parents thought was a simple case of the flu, was found to be an enlarged heart. Dr. Byron Holm discovered the problem in an x-ray, but her symptoms lingered and continued to get worse. Destiny developed a bad cough and was rushed by ambulance to Riley’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis for two weeks of tests. Riley doctors were finally able to determine she had rheumatic fever. The disease had spread to her heart and caused congestive heart failure. Destiny and her parents have been back and forth from Riley’s ever since, but her recovery has been slow and difficult.

Right now, Destiny is receiving treatment which involves medication in hopes that the drugs will repair her badly damaged heart valves. So far, the progress has been minimal. If the drug treatment fails, Destiny will have to undergo heart valve replacement surgery. Her final option will be a heart transplant. Currently her doctors do not want to pursue surgery because she is so frail and her heart is too inflamed.

During the beginning of her illness, Destiny became so weak that she had trouble just getting up the stairs to her bedroom At times her grandfather or her parents had to carry Destiny up the stairs because she became too tired and simply could not go that far on her own. When her parents took her to the park, Destiny was unable to walk without crying and taking breaks every few feet.

Destiny currently shares her bedroom with her 2 young brothers in her parents’ small two bedroom home north of Plymouth. Destiny wanted her own room on the first floor of their house.  When the Plymouth Kiwanis Club President learned of Destiny’s case, he presented it to Plymouth Kiwanis and they unanimously decided to become involved.

The Kiwanians are a local branch of a world-wide organization dedicated to improving children’s lives. “Destiny didn’t want a trip to Walt Disney World® Resorts like most children her age. She wanted a bedroom of her own. We are working with the community to give young Destiny her dream,” per the Kiwanis President.

Destiny’s congestive heart failure qualified her for a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation®. When asked what she wanted, her answer was simple. She wanted a room redo for her soon-to-be new bedroom.

With the help of a close friend of Mewsette’s, the Plymouth Kiwanians went to work. They began making calls and soon things started to fall in place. With the help of Easterday Construction, plans were drawn up that would add two bedrooms to the home’s ground floor, one for Destiny and one for her parents so they would be close by if needed. This also made it possible for Destiny not to have to worry about climbing the stairs. Keith Woods of Lowe’s agreed to be the general contractor for the project, and he also promised a small team of workers. Some generous donors have agreed to supply some materials. However many more need to be purchased. A list of all major donors will be acknowledged at the completion of the “Destiny’s Wish” project.

Despite all the donation of workers and materials, it is estimated it will cost an additional $15,000 to complete the project. A special fund has been established at Lake City Bank, which is accepting donations to the project. Checks can be made out to Kiwanis Destiny’s Wish. Gifts made out to Kiwanis may be tax deductible. The Plymouth Kiwanis Club is trusting the public will open their hearts and their wallets to help make build a room Destiny can call her own.

There is also at least one fundraising event planned. A Zumbathon will be held at the LifePlex in Plymouth on April 30th from noon to 3 P.M. Funds raised from the dance-a-thon will go to the building project. Local churches are also answering the call to help. Several area churches have already committed to monetary donations and volunteer workers.

Volunteers from Lowe’s and Plymouth Kiwanis will begin construction on April 2nd and will work every Saturday after that until Destiny’s room is complete. It will be constructed with all volunteers under the advice of experts, in the same way as the Habitat for Humanity Homes are built. Once the addition is complete, the Make-A-Wish Foundation can grant Destiny’s wish and decorate her bedroom to make it extra special.

Destiny’s mother is a dance instructor at the LifePlex. Mewsette says her daughter also loves to dance. She especially loves ballet and junior ballroom dancing. For now Destiny is limited to less aerobic forms of dance. Her mother hopes that, with treatment, Destiny may one day be able to fully enjoy something she loves so much.

If you would like to make a cash donation to the project, you can do so by stopping by Lake City Bank (862 E Jefferson, Plymouth) and making your check out to “Kiwanis Destiny’s Wish.” Donations for Destiny’s Wish may also be sent to: Kiwanis-Destiny’s Wish, P.O. Box 504, Plymouth, IN 46563. Material donations of lumber, drywall and shingles are also needed. To make material donations, please call Keith Woods at 935-6500 or 935-0202 or Dale Cramer at Lake City Bank at 935-4200.

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time. The Plymouth Kiwanis meet each Tuesday at noon at Christo’s Banquet Center in Plymouth and interested people and/or potential new members are always welcome. For more information, contact Tom Sibal at 935-8442.

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