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300 support treatment for 3-year-old
Hope Dinner DSC 9791
Hope Vander Maaden, 3, hugs her Minnie Mouse doll given to her at Wednesday nights fundraising dinner at the First Ripon Christian Reformed Church. It came from friend Francine Hand. Hands husband Tom was responsible for organizing the deacons of the church to stage the dinner. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin

More than 300 people touched by the story of a three-year-old fighting the onset of MS turned out at Ripon’s First Christian Reformed Church to support a new intensive physical therapy treatment for Hope Vander Maaden.

Mom Jennifer Vander Maaden brought Hope to the dinner along with her child sized walker.  Deacons served the diners.  It was those nine deacons of the church headed by Tom Hand who collectively organized the fund raising dinner for Hope.  They were Eric VanderVeen, Rob Van Duyn, Josh Cheney, Tyler Kirk, Ryan Van Duyn, Jett Hoag, Neil Karston and Mitch Adams.

Hope wanted to talk to everyone and was seen pushing her golden walker throughout the room dashing from table to table with her broad infectious smile and giving high-fives.  She served as her own poster girl who had already received physical therapy treatments back in April designed to sideline the effects of MS. The Southern California center where she is being treated has already proven that is possible.

Hope was taken to Shiners’ Hospital in Sacramento on Thursday where she was checked by a doctor who will see her again after she returns from her trip to Los Angeles next month.

As the toddler scurried around the room in her walker-mobile she spied the dessert cookies that she enjoyed after eating dinner.  Known for her giving character, Hope attempted to share her cookie with her big brother John by sliding it in between his lips as he held her in his arms.

Hope’s best smiles come when someone can imitate Donald Duck.  She loves all the Disney characters, but obviously Minnie Mouse is on the top of her list.  In the last series of physical therapy exercises, she did exceedingly well in doing everything she was asked to do, surprising those working with her.

Jennifer said her daughter gets herself up in the morning and pushes her little walker down the hall and let’s her know it’s time to rise and shine as she says, “Up, Up.”

“She is so determined to do what she is told,” Jennifer said, “she just does it.”

When Hope was just a year old, the MS manifested itself and it looked like the toddler would have to be put into a foster home. Because her birth mother – Jennifer’s sister – couldn’t take care of her because of her own MS situation, Jennifer decided to adopt the little girl and raise her as her own.  Through her endless research she found the world renowned physical therapy center in Los Angeles that claimed they could reverse and head off many of the dreaded symptoms of small children with the disease, but at an extreme cost.  Hope’s adoption became final in May.

Anyone in the Ripon/Manteca communities who is moved to help the family with their multiple sclerosis dilemma may send contributions to the Ripon First Christian Reformed Church in Ripon at 305 Boesch Avenue, 95366, in Hope’s name. 


To contact Glenn Kahl email or call 209.249.3539.