Tattoo shop, community rally around Crothersville girl

By Zach Spicer | The Tribune

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CROTHERSVILLE — Taylor Fitch was born with arthrogryposis multiplex congenita.

Arthrogryposis is a term used to describe a variety of conditions involving multiple joint contractures or stiffness, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. A contracture is a condition where the range of motion of a joint is limited. It may be unable to fully or partially extend or bend.

The cause is unknown, although arthrogryposis is thought to be related to inadequate room in utero and low amniotic fluid. The patient may have an underlying neurological condition or connective tissue disorder.

Rachel Fitch said her daughter also had a stroke in the womb.

So far, Taylor has undergone thousands of hours of therapy, bracing and such. She has had the tendons on the back of her feet clipped to relax them because they were curled. She also had a through-the-knee amputation, and at the same time, doctors cut both femurs in half at the hip, rotated and set in the correct place.

Unfortunately, her amputation went necrotic, and Taylor had to have two emergency surgeries around Thanksgiving in 2020.

Last year, she had her hardware removed from her hips, as she had successfully healed. Taylor’s doctors are at Shriners Children’s Greenville in South Carolina, and she has to travel there for all of her medical needs.

“They’ve given us a new outlook and hope for her future,” Rachel said of her 10-year-old daughter.

The next step is to figure out how to best fix her arms.

“Taylor wants both arms amputated, as well, but there’s a specialist in Pennsylvania that his primary practice is fixing AMC’ers’ arms,” Rachel said. “He says he can give her some sort of functioning arms if she has the muscles in her arms, even if they aren’t currently working. But we would have to have funding to go to the appointments for that. And right now, we just don’t. I’m hoping we can secure funding again to continue her medical needs and journey.”

On a positive note, Taylor recently received an Obi robotic feeder. The adaptive eating device is for individuals with upper extremity strength and mobility limitations. Through the use of customizable accessibility switches, Obi allows its users to be in control of what they eat and when. It increases independence, social interaction, meal enjoyment and well-being.

In July 2021, Rachel said she submitted paperwork to the state asking for a feeder, but she never received a response.

Taylor’s school, Austin Elementary, bought one so she could more easily feed herself and not have to be fed in front of her classmates, and she has used it every day at school.

She also needed one at her home in Crothersville because she was using a lap tray and a bear paw feeder.

“It’s basically a suction-cupped base with a shaft and a magnet at the top to which her fork or spoon sticks,” Rachel said. “Her current process is very slow, messy and half her food falls off of it.”

Rachel posted on Facebook thinking she was going to do another bake sale to purchase a feeder. Kyle McIntosh, owner of Beauty from Ashes Tattoo Parlor in Crothersville, asked her to private message him details.

“For a couple years, I’ve known of this family, and I’ve seen them with their boots on the ground doing small fundraisers here and there,” McIntosh said. “But in all honesty, I knew very little about their story.”

The Fitches invited him to church, and he was able to meet the family.

“After meeting them, I felt God laying it on my heart. I prayed and thought a lot about it,” McIntosh said.

A few weeks later, early one morning scrolling through Facebook, he saw a post by Rachel with unfortunate news that the desperate help they had been waiting on to fund some medical equipment had been denied.

“Being a determined momma, she was putting out feelers to do a bake sale to raise money,” McIntosh said. “Instantly, I knew that was the confirmation I had been waiting on.”

He instantly messaged his wife, Kasey McIntosh, about doing a fundraiser. Her response was simple but powerful: “Yes.”

“I then messaged my fellow artists with this crazy idea of volunteering a whole day for someone they didn’t even know. Their response: ‘Yes,’” Kyle said. “I was a little nervous because there are only three artists, including myself, in the studio, compared to six artists we’ve had for previous events. Also, much like other small businesses and individuals, the last six months as a business, we’ve faced some pretty huge financial barriers.”

But Kyle said he knew it was a God thing, so he had to do it, and he contacted Rachel and asked if she was OK with doing a tattoo fundraiser. She agreed.

In a matter of two weeks, the fundraiser was promoted on Facebook, and Kyle received a lot of positive responses.

“I had many late nights after a day full of tattooing preparing hundreds of flash designs, setting up the studio and ordering everything needed, only in hopes that we could raise at least half of what they needed,” he said.

On April 30, Kyle said the event started, and God showed up.

“The line was wrapped around the building,” he said. “Some people waited four hours to get a 10-minute tattoo just to help a complete stranger. Strangers became friends. They laughed, cried, ate, prayed and celebrated together, all while enduring the extremes of Indiana weather, sunshine and rain. It was truly a beautiful sight to witness.”

After nine hours of tattooing with only three artists, they raised $5,895. Add in the PayPal and cash donations of $3,610, and a total of $9,505 was raised. That exceeded the goal of $7,800.

Rachel then ordered the robotic feeder and expected it to arrive within six to nine weeks. Twenty-four hours after she paid for it with the donations, though, it was shipped. It arrived May 9.

“That’s only a God thing,” she said.

Rachel said it blows her away that people were willing to help.

“I fully believe it was supposed to happen in the place that it did in the way that it did so people’s lives could be changed,” she said.

“I never expected people to sit in the sun and rain for hours to help us,” she said. “That’s nuts because we’re no one special, just an average family trying to raise our family and do the best we can. We do what we can, but we get no government assistance in any area, and life is expensive. So to put your face out to the public and say, ‘Hey, I don’t have enough money’ is hard.”

Kyle and his team worked hard to pull off the fundraiser for the family, Rachel said.

“They didn’t even take a cut to cover their expenses. They gave us 100% of the proceeds,” she said. “I wish there was a way I could properly thank them.”

At the event, Kasey gave Taylor’s brothers — Danny, 12, Jackie, 11, Traven, 9, and Gavin, 5 — stencil tattoos so they were included, too.

“It made them feel 10 feet tall. As a mom, it was really cool for my kids to see how people should come together to help someone in need,” Rachel said. “But something so amazing was that we were literally giving all the glory to God for this whole situation, the way it came together and the money raised.”

While the fundraiser was a big success, Rachel said Taylor’s next need is a new prosthetic leg, and she also needs to do a weeklong therapy session to address puberty and her disability and what that’s going to look like.

Plus, Taylor needs to restart physical therapy and occupational therapy and get to Pennsylvania to get her arms addressed. She also needs a bigger wheelchair because the state denied that, too.

“Years ago, she had a motorized chair built because at that time, we were told there was no hope for her and she’d never walk, so because she has a motorized chair, they don’t want to buy her a manual one,” Rachel said. “But now that she can walk and has a prosthetic leg, we don’t need the motorized one. It’s a complicated situation, but basically, you only qualify for a new wheelchair every five years.”

Anyone interested in donating to the family can PayPal [email protected] or mail donations to their home, 4833 S. U.S. 31, Crothersville, IN 47229.

”I also will be starting Taylor’s Facebook page back up so people can follow along. It’s Taylor’s Journey with AMC,” Rachel said. “I will be storing the money there on PayPal until another appointment or immediate need arises.”