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‘Addibot’ gives young girl a chance to see her peers at school

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 7:55 AM EST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 8:17 AM EST
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ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - The Carroll family started quarantining well before it was mandated, in order to protect their daughter Addi, who is immunocompromised. Robotic technology for the classroom has made learning just a little easier for the girl battling a serious disease.

“Educationally, it’s been an amazing piece,” said Ian Carroll, Addi’s dad, who has taken the lead on supporting Addi’s schooling from home. “It sort of re-established a more full and well-rounded school day.”

We first introduced you to Addi back in December because of her special relationship with the Essex Fire Department, getting a truck named for her. Now, she has something else to call her own -- the VGo, nicknamed the “Addibot.” It’s a robotic webcam that can move around the school on Addi’s behalf, allowing her to interact with teachers and friends.

“I would say starting in February, we are really starting to see how useful of a tool this is,” said Andrea Francalangia, a learning specialist at Founders Memorial School in Essex Junction. She says Addi often has to be isolated because of germs, so when the pandemic hit, in-person learning wasn’t an option.

Addi’s parents feared not just for Addi’s education, but for making real connections as well. That’s when they learned that friendship, is stronger than circumstance. “Here, with the Bot, she is an actual person,” said Ian.

“If I hear it, I’m like here comes Addi and the class just lights up,” said Francalangia.

Addi’s best friend Brynn says not having Addi around was hard. “She can always say something funny to make you laugh,” she said. But the “Addibot” allows for the laughs to continue and friendships to thrive. “She makes pictures with us. In the library, we read her books. like “Pete the Cat” books are her favorite.”

So, even when she can’t be present, her presence is still felt. “It’s really nice to see the children just see her as a person, to come and access and be with peers, and the kids just openly accept her and love seeing her,” said Francalangia.

ESSEX FIRE DEPARTMENT BLOOD DRIVE

Addi suffers from an unnamed and never-before-documented disease that affects her whole body and is potentially terminal.

The Essex Fire Department will be holding a blood drive in her honor this weekend at the Essex Outlets. The pandemic has created some challenges for blood drives, like no walk-ins, but they upped their goal of blood and all 122 appointments have been filled.

Essex Fire Chief Charlie Cole, or “Chief Charlie,” as Addi likes to call him, says when it comes to donating blood, it’s important to remember every drop counts. “The few minutes that it takes a person to give blood, it helps so many people and it helps more than one person. So every blood donation gets broken down into its component parts, so it helps more than one patient so that’s really important, a lot of people might not realize that. So you are saving more than one person with every donation that you give,” said Chief Cole.

Chief Cole says even though all the appointments are full, you can always hop on to the Red Cross’ website, and they can point you to more blood drives in the area where you can donate.

Related Story:

Firetruck named after young girl with untreatable disease

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