Colin's Story

Collabria Day Program training prepares a father to walk his daughter down the aisle

“Seeing the confidence in my father’s stride was the best wedding gift ever”

Ask anyone who knows Colin Shelton and the first thing they’ll tell you about him is “He’s a very social person.” He’s also a proud, independent man, having moved away from family in England as a young man to strike out on his own in the U.S.

But 40 years ago, Colin was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), which left his right side weak, making him dependent on either a walker or a scooter to get around. Through the Collabria Care Chronic Condition Services, he began attending the Collabria Day Program for regular movement and exercise, and the chance to socialize with other participants.

Little did anyone realize when he started, how the Day Program would also give him the skills and confidence to accept not one but two once-in-a-lifetime opportunities – and to help him cope with a new challenge.

When Colin’s daughter, Kirstry, asked him to walk him down the aisle at her wedding, Colin hatched a plan with his wife, Selma, and the Day Program team to walk her down the aisle unassisted. The Day Program team created an individualized program to strengthen his legs and improve his balance, and after five months, he proudly walked Kirsty down the aisle — a rocky path along a lakeshore! “Seeing the confidence in my father’s stride was the best wedding gift ever,” said Kirstry.

Colin’s newfound ability also opened the door to another opportunity, when Colin’s father gave Colin and Selma trip on the Queen Mary 2 to visit family in England, Scotland, and Wales.

“His training gave him the confidence and ability to make the long trip and travel around a country that doesn’t have the same accessibility as the U.S. for those with disabilities,” said Selma. “So he was able to spend time with family he hadn’t seen in years — it was the trip of a lifetime. And besides, in general, the schedule and structure the Day Program provides makes it easier for him to push himself because we all know you try harder when someone else is watching.”

Colin has begun to face a new challenge – a gradual cognitive decline. “Since the Day Program staff sees him on a regular basis, they’re my ally in observing changes, and helping,” says Selma. “It’s so helpful to have someone to ask, “Am I off base, or is this really happening?”

“I appreciate what Collabria Care does even more, now that we’re dealing with this. The team does anything they can to help him, or they track down the right resource elsewhere for us. And the consistency of going to Collabria Day Program three days a week, with the range of programs he participates in, is really helpful for Colin and a comfort to me: The staff monitors his vitals so they know what’s going on, and they track his progress. It’s reassuring to know they’re watching him as closely as I do.”

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