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Community fundraiser helps retrofit home for child with cerebral palsy

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A suburban community is rallying to help a young girl with cerebral palsy whose house needs an upgrade to make it more wheelchair-accessible.

On Saturday, neighbors in Oswego will be running and partying with a purpose: Karing for Kyla.

What started out nine years ago as a party to help neighbors in a new subdivision get to know one another, has morphed into so much more. Now, it's fun and fundraising combined. This year's Blues on Barton party and 5K run is all about helping change the life of a neighbor young girl.

7-year-old Kyla Hartigan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 4. She is confined to a wheelchair, but still manages to get around the main floor of her house pretty well.

For her to go down to the basement playroom, or upstairs to her bedroom though, requires mom or dad to carry her.

"So essentially now she's like a 43 pound infant who can't control her head and can't control her arms," Kyla's mother, Margie Hartigan says. "Going up and down the stairs multiple times a day is very difficult."

And Kyla's wheelchair can't go with her.

"It's 300 pounds. It can't be carried up the stairs, and it just makes it really hard for her to just be a 7-year-old kid," Hartigan says.

Margie Hartigan looked into installing an elevator but the $40,000 cost made that impossible.

She mentioned to a realtor neighbor Michelle Sather about maybe needing to move. Sather and her husband Justin transform their backyard into a fundraising party each year called Blues on Barton. This year, it's for Kyla.

Justin plans to raffle off those tickets and many other items donated by neighbors and local businesses at his party Saturday night.

"We try to do a hyper-local cause because then you really see the payoff for where the money's gonna go," Justin says.

This year there's also a 5K run. Justin hoped for 25 people and more than 300 have signed up for that and a short kids run Saturday morning.

The fundraising effort, which includes $1,400 raised from two raffled Pearl Jam tickets, has already surpassed the last two years combined.

"We're already over 10,000, so it's beyond my wildest dreams," says Justin.

Margie is at a loss to express her gratitude to the Sathers and others taking part in the fundraiser.

"Their hearts are just huge and to come forward to help my 7-year-old daughter," Margie says. "I love them all for it, just want to hug every one of them."

Anyone wanting to contribute to the fundraising efforts can send a check payable to The Sather Foundation 100 Illinois Suite 200. St. Charles, IL 60174.

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