Imagine a baby so small you could hold him in the palm of your hand.
That was Ethan six years ago when he was born weighing only 880 grams at five months and 25 days. No one thought he would survive – but he did.
During that first year his mother Angela became concerned: “You would lift him up to stand when you were playing with him and he was holding your fingers, but there was no strength in his legs, you could feel he wasn’t putting weight on his legs,” Angela explained. Worried, she took him to the local hospital but was told she was being too anxious. “But I knew something was wrong.”
Finally, at one and a half years old, the doctors saw that Ethan wasn’t reaching his milestones. It was heartbreaking for his mom when doctors diagnosed Ethan with cerebral palsy and told her he would not be able to walk and would be fully dependent on her for all of his needs. They didn’t even believe he would be able to speak. But, Angela did not give up on him.
Now six, Ethan has grown so tall he has outgrown all of his equipment at home, including his stander, walker and wheelchair. The only functioning equipment he has is his bath chair! At almost 70 lbs. Angela can barely lift him safely; for both this is a concern.
“His weight has increased tremendously and lifting him for his daily care has become really challenging,” explains Angela. “There have been falls and I have sprained my shoulder and hurt my back. I am the sole parent of Ethan, and every time I hurt myself it makes it extremely difficult to give Ethan the proper care he requires and deserves.”
It is just the two of them, and Angela has to do the lifts and transfers by herself manually. It is no longer simple like it was when Ethan was little; he is tall and likes to move around. He does not have the muscle tone to hold himself, so it is with strength and care she must balance and hold her son properly otherwise they will both fall.
This is why Angela and Ethan desperately needed a ceiling track lift for their home – to ensure personal safety and far less risk of injury for both of them. Fortunately, thanks to generous donors like you, Easter Seals was just recently able to help fund this ceiling track lift for Ethan, making their home much safer.
You have the power to provide more children like Ethan with safety and greater freedom. You will be giving parents like Angela the priceless gift of being able to provide their child with the proper care they deserve.
Angela is an incredibly resilient mother who will not let the pandemic set Ethan back on the milestones he has achieved. As a baby she was told that Ethan would not talk, or even swallow, on his own. Angela never accepted these low expectations set out for her son. She knew Ethan was not to be underestimated!
At four he was only able to say five words but she knew he understood. Initially he was prescribed a computer as a communication device, but Angela knew “this boy can talk!”
Every week she was dedicated to taking him to speech therapy, not an easy feat for a working mother, who relies on public transit. She spoke to him as any parent would to their child – not accepting the limitations that were being set for him – and today she proudly describes her son as a chatty, happy boy.“If there is anything I can give Ethan it is to make sure he is happy. When he laughs, he laughs from the heart.”
The pandemic has hit Ethan and his mother particularly hard. Angela and Ethan moved here from Nigeria all on their own three years ago and have felt incredibly isolated without the support of friends and family close by. As a single mom, Angela had to leave her job at the hospital to care for Ethan when the schools closed a year ago. Her position did not allow her to work from home, and with no other support available, home is where she needed to be to take care of her son. With the schools opening last fall, Angela was looking forward to returning to work; however, devastatingly, her job was no longer there for her. Sadly, this is a common situation for many of the families we serve; for parents who needed to make the decision to stay home and care for their child.
No child should be denied the essential equipment they need to live safely in their own home. The children you are helping are part of the vulnerable sector and many are really struggling right now.
You will be making a life-changing impact for a child and offering a lifeline to parents who are currently facing tremendous challenges.