Community chips in for 13-year-old’s specialized car seat

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13-year-old Katie Moorhaus got fitted for her specialized car seat Monday. Phyllis Larrimore conducted the install. Photo courtesy John Merchant

13-year-old Katie Moorhaus got fitted for her specialized car seat Monday. Phyllis Larrimore conducted the install. Photo courtesy John Merchant

A child with Cerebral Palsy in northeast Kansas now has a safer ride after a community effort.

Cindy Moorhaus is a Hiawatha, Kan. resident and a mother of three including 13-year-old Katie who has Cerebral Palsy and Microcephaly. Recently, Brown County Sheriff John Merchant said he learned that Katie needed a special car seat for her condition.

The car seat retails at $1,900, something Cindy said her family couldn’t afford with two other children to care for.

“We kind of got a few folks together and made it happen,” Merchant said. “These car seats are manufactured for special needs children for those special conditions. Like in Katie’s case she has Cerebral Palsy so she doesn’t have a lot of neck or muscle control in the upper torso. It’s basically a reinforced seat that provides extra padding, or reinforcement.”

Cindy said she mentioned to John in June that Katie was having issues with her car seat.

“I just got to saying ‘she’s laying over in her seat and I just don’t feel safe going back and forth to Kansas City to Children’s Mercy because we’re constantly having to stop to adjust her so she’s not laying over,” Cindy said.

This is the second specialized car seat Katie has had. Cindy said about eight years ago, Katie had a car seat until their van was stolen in the middle of the night.

“We got another car seat but it wasn’t a special needs car seat,” Cindy said. “I didn’t think anything of it until her seizure activity increased and she was laying over more.”

Sheriff Merchant said he did some research after hearing about Katie’s need.

“Phyllis Larrimore, we really owe a big debt of gratitude to her. She works at Children’s Mercy,” Merchant said. “She walked me through how to order this car seat based on Katie’s measurements and everything else and make sure everything was the right fit for her.”

Merchant said volunteers came together from not just Brown County but some from across the state to get Katie a new seat. Last week, Phyllis Larrimore, the Program Coordinator for Children’s Mercy Hospital, came up to Hiawatha and installed the new seat. The staff with the sheriff’s department and many community members came together to witness the installation and see Katie try out her new fit. Cindy said, so far the seat is a success.

“She absolutely loves it. She sits up, not completely straight but she’s up and looking out the window more. She’s not flopped over, it’s amazing. She’s so safe now,” Cindy said.

Now, Cindy said she feels much more comfortable taking Katie to Kansas City for her treatments.  Sheriff Merchant said he was happy to see the community come together for Katie.

“I want to personally thank everyone for their support of this very worthwhile project and to let you all know how much it means to have the support of the county when it comes to the safety of this little girl. You are all to be commended,” Sheriff Merchant said.