PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland family is honoring the memory of their teen son who passed away last year by helping other children with disabilities.
Corbin died of heart failure on July 8, 2018 — a day before his 16th birthday. He battled health issues his entire life, including a rare lung disease called pulmonary hypertension that made his heart work harder than it should.
When he was about a year old, doctors told his family he had 3 to 5 years to live.
Aside from defying that expectation, Corbin experienced adventures and special trips thanks to his dedicated family.
KOIN 6 News first met Corbin in 2016 when his family was in search of a special wheelchair that could give him greater mobility. The lung condition made him unable to walk long distances. He also had autism and was non-verbal.
His family wanted Corbin’s life to be as happy as it could be for as long as it could be.
“We knew that our time was getting shorter with him and we wanted to really value that time,” said his mother, Gillian Murr.
So they started a GoFundMe campaign to finance the special chair with big, thick wheels that could traverse difficult terrain. With the help of donations and a grant from Wheel To Walk, Corbin received the chair in October of 2016.
Murr said the chair changed her son’s life. It prevented him from being confined to sitting at home.
“The first thing we did was the pumpkin patch and we actually went through the corn maze and it was really super muddy, inches of mud,” Murr said. “He was really happy.”
Corbin also got to experience hiking trails, camping and even the beach.
“He always loved the beach and going into the waves,” said Murr. “So with [the chair], we were able to still push him out into the waves. The wheels kind of float so he would get movement from it. His hands would be in the air and his feet would be out and he’d be kind of making his sounds — his happy sounds.”
Murr said reminiscing on these experiences and knowing that Corbin’s last years were happy ones give her joy now that he’s gone.
Now, Corbin’s family wants to let other people borrow the special chair.
They created a Facebook page to loan the chair — for free — to families in the community. Murr would like the people who borrow it to share pictures of their travels “so it’s still like Corbin’s going on those adventures.”
“I’m just hoping it can bring that joy and kind of honor his memory and his legacy,” she said.
The chair can hold up to 250 pounds and is designed for a person as tall as 5-foot-7.
Murr, along with Corbin’s little sister and stepdad, also keep Corbin’s memory alive through a special tree in their front yard, which they call Corbin’s tree.
After Corbin passed away, they turned the tree into a memorial to honor his memory. They bring back rocks and shells from their trips to put under the tree. They also surround it with some of his favorite things, like Skittles and Root Beer.
“It just kind of helps me, I think, still tend to him,” Murr said. “It gives me something to still feel like I’m still taking care of him.”