Donor support helps Brooke experience the joy of play and movement.
Bravery and determination are two words you would use to describe nine-year-old Brooke. Her story is sure to warm your heart.
The first 37 nights of Brooke’s life were spent in the hospital. She was born at 30 weeks and five days – nearly ten weeks premature. After this incredibly difficult start, Brooke was finally able to go home.
The next few months of Brooke’s life were pretty typical. But as months went by, Melissa noticed that Brooke was missing some of her milestones. She sensed that something may be wrong. “I was told there was no need to worry. Since she was born prematurely, the milestones could still come,” Melissa explains.
Nothing could have prepared her for what was about to happen. When Brooke was 14 months old, things took a scary turn. Brooke had her first seizure. And shortly after that, it was discovered that she had cerebral palsy (CP).
Becoming a new parent is challenging enough, but now Melissa faced a whole new world of unknowns. “It was definitely scary, and I really didn’t know what to expect,” Melissa shares. “We had been told so many different things about CP. And you know, there are so many different variations and ways that children can be affected. It was scary to not know.”
In the years following her CP diagnosis, Brooke has done countless hours of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. She has also bravely faced several surgeries to help improve her mobility and her overall quality of life. The most challenging one was a hip and pelvic surgery in April of 2021. You can only imagine how difficult that must have been for a small child.
“Right after the surgery she had problems breathing,” Melissa recalls. “We just weren’t expecting there to be so many complications. Her cast ended up being too tight and it was restricting her breathing and they had to cut it off of her and then rewrap it before she went home. It was a long process with lots of healing. Brooke was in a lot of pain.”
Because of your support, Brooke, along with many other children facing physical barriers, are able to get the life-changing equipment that they need.
Brooke wore a large spica cast from her belly over her trunk and down both legs to her knees for six weeks as she recovered from her surgery. “It was challenging, but we made do,” Melissa says. “Even though it was hot out, we went outside. Brooke went to the park and sat in the swing with her cast on. She is not one to be homebound. She didn’t care that she had the cast on.”
As you can see, Brooke has bravely faced some tremendous challenges in her life. But they haven’t broken her spirit. In the seven years since Brooke was diagnosed with CP, she has grown into an energetic and playful nine-year-old girl.
She loves to stay active and plays Challenger Baseball, virtual boccia ball, and goes downhill adaptive skiing whenever she can. “She loves going to the beach and park. We just got a new accessible playground with swings and a splash pad. And she loves to go for walks,” Melissa shares.
Brooke mainly uses a manual wheelchair to get around. At school, she is training with a power wheelchair and loves to keep up with her friends while riding her adaptive tricycle around the gym. She also uses a stander to develop her strength and mobility and is also training with a sit-to-stand transfer device to save Melissa’s back from injury as Brooke grows bigger.
Your support gives kids like Brooke a chance to participate and stay active. And that’s not the only way your gifts help.
Your generosity has also helped Melissa with the purchase of a new bath chair for Brooke. This piece of equipment allows Brooke to sit lower in the tub, comfortably and safely, so she can help with the bath process and be more independent.
“It just gives her the ability to be more engaged in bath time and help out more. It helps her build confidence. And the new chair is easier on me and my body. Before it was hard to lift her and readjust her. We are fortunate to get the funding. As a single parent, Brooke is my only child, and raising her is very expensive. Children are expensive in general, but there are so many extra costs when raising a child with special needs,” Melissa shares.
Even with Brooke’s incredible drive and determination, participating and staying active would not be possible without the many pieces of accessibility and mobility equipment she relies on every day. Thank you for choosing to be there for her.
Without the kindness of Easter Seals donors like you, I’m sure you can imagine how life would be different for Brooke. Her story is just one example of how you make a tremendous difference in the lives of kids with disabilities.
Melissa is working tirelessly to make sure Brooke can live a rich and fulfilling life with strength and independence. Donors like you make it a little bit easier for Melissa to give Brooke the life she deserves. And there are many more kids just like Brooke waiting for help from Easter Seals.