Charlotte, NC - If you ask six-year-old Gabe Ospina what he loves to do in his spare time, he’d say: “Play basketball.”
Being in a wheelchair doesn’t limit him to what he can do. In fact, far from it.
“I look at him and I see him saying other people being able to do things but he can't do and that recognition in him kills me,” said his mom, Kristin Ospina. “But then to see him overcome it to see him say, ‘You know what I'm going to try this anyway.”
Gabe was born with Spina Bifida, a birth defect which impairs the vertebrae and limits his mobility, but thanks to stem cell research, he’s making huge strides.
“Since he got the stem research cell he has feeling all the way down to his toes which start at his hips,” said his neighbor Victor Verany. “He went from being only in a wheelchair to being able to use his little walker and crutches.”
To help make that possible, Victor Verany started an art auction several years ago for his Gabe and his family. “We couldn't do it, plain and simple,” said Kristin about being able to pay for therapy and treatment, who says therapy sessions not covered by insurance can cost up to $85 an hour.
Verany’s art auction has expanded this year to include several other families. The art is also unique, as it uses skateboards as the canvas.
“It's overwhelming, the talent that people have contributed with their skate decks and [they] are thinking completely outside of the box,” said Christie Rainwater.
There are more than 130 skateboards up for auction, many painted by local school children, others from professionals from around the country.
Proceeds from the auction will also help Luke Rainwater and his family afford treatment.
“We’re talking Dr. Bills in the $10,000 range every year,” said Christie Rainwater. “That's like buying a new car and paying it off every year but people don't do that. They pay it off over a five year period and we don't have that luxury.”
The goal of the fourth annual Shred for Spina Bifida Art Auction is to raise at least $15,000.
“It goes to pay off therapy bills for Luke and might help Debbie Sarich get a new van for her five internationally adopted special need kids,” said Verany.
While some might say Gabe is disabled, at only six years old, others might say Gabe is intellectually able, far beyond his years.
“I got to work hard,” said Gabe. “You can’t give up though.”
More than 100 local businesses also donated items for a raffle during the event to help raise even more money for the cause.