Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Defying the Odds

Sometimes, the simple act of fund raising allows you to share in the progress of someone defying the odds. Enter Kurtis. I met his parents at the dance school my daughter was attending several years ago. They had a child dancing there as well and his father was the vocal coach who worked with my daughter on her musical theatre numbers. The studio was all looking forward to enjoying a new baby in our midst when their life took a detour.

Born 14 weeks early, Kurtis entered the world with many challenges. As with any newborn that cannot communicate, the difficulty of even knowing exactly what disabilities were present was almost an impossible task in the beginning. His mother picked up the gauntlet from day one and became his medical advocate - researching, taking him to numerous therapies and somehow dealing with the difficult diagnoses when they came - "Cerebral Palsy", "Deafness" and, after he began to attend deaf school and was still not communicating effectively, "Autism". He wasn't expected to ever stand and originally there was even a struggle to get him into the deaf school because of the challenge in evaluating a non-verbal child. Eating issues were a daily dilemma as was the need for constant supervision.

During this time the dance school came together as a family and began saving bottles and cans to help cover a few of the extra costs. I honestly can't remember when it started, but 5 or 6 years later many of us are still dropping off our stash every month or so. From building a safe outdoor accessible play area to Prism Lens Glasses to Conductive Ed sessions, we were given the opportunity and privilege of supporting the parents in their journey to help Kurtis realize his full potential. For this small effort, we are allowed to share in the progress of an amazing child who has truly defied the odds in so many way.


Kurtis is now a bright and articulate student. After a recent surgery he was able to balance standing in his casts. Although staying on his feet is a going to be a long process once the casts come off, it is a welcome challenge for this motivated boy. A university student became interested in Kurtis' eating issues and took on developing a program to expand his eating choices. Now his diet is more varied and growing larger all the time. I love this quote his mother recently posted on FB - "Don't tell me the sky is the limit, there are foot prints on the moon..." - Kent Blazy/Skip Ewing.

I encourage everyone to take a moment and look around for somewhere you can make a difference. Don't be afraid to let it be personal, and find something that fits in your life so it can be a part of your journey for a long time.

Note - For anyone facing similar challenges, the family has set up a support website called Autism, Aspergers and More - Oh My.

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