Karyna Laroche is ready for the trip of a lifetime.

The 53-year-old Ottawa woman is heading to London to see her favourite actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, perform Hamlet on stage. It is the fastest-selling show in British theatre history.

“I’m nervous. I’m excited,” she says.

It’s a trip she wouldn’t be making without the kindness of many strangers.

Laroche has spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative form of muscular dystrophy. She is confined to a wheelchair and requires constant care.

Her motorized wheelchair is too bulky and fragile for the tight streets and old buildings of London. She was, however, unable to get funding for a second wheelchair.

So, back in March of 2015, Laroche turned to crowdfunding to raise $5,000 for a specialized, light-weight manual wheelchair. Her story aired on CTV at the time.

The response was overwhelming.

“I couldn’t believe it,” says Laroche. “I mean, the moment it aired, within half an hour Samantha called me and she said you’ve reached the limit.”

Samantha Kauppi is Laroche’s long-time caregiver who will accompany her on the trip. “It almost seems too perfect, like, too good to be true,” says Kauppi. I’m kind of on cloud nine a little bit.”

The fundraising campaign actually surpassed its goal. Laroche donated the extra money to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The new chair has finally arrived, and just in time. Laroche leaves for her trip in a little over a week. She’s in the process of trying it out and so far likes what she sees, especially a tilt feature that will allow her to sit more comfortably for long periods of time. Perfect for a trip to London.

For Laroche, it will be her first trip in 25 years. And, as her condition gradually worsens, she knows it could be her last.

“If this is my last trip I’ll be very happy,” she says. “It’s really made a dream come true for me.”

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Karyna Laroche gets her wish

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