Honorary Ambassadors

Luke

Luke was born at 32 weeks due to placental abruption.  About four months later, his mom noticed that he seemed a little stiff, and asked for an MRI as her “mommy instinct” knew something wasn’t quite right.  His pediatrician agreed, and an MRI showed a brain bleed, intraventricular hemorrhage, and periventricular leukomalacia.  His pediatrician was quick to ease his parents worried hearts with the good news that this was caught early, and an early intervention of PT/OT would help tremendously.  Initial evaluations with private clinics were scheduled…only for COVID to shut the world down the following week, cancelling all appointments for new patients.  Knowing time was of the essence, his new developmental pediatrician recommended reaching out to Early Childhood Intervention.  Easter Seals Greater Houston stepped in and immediately scheduled an evaluation via telehealth, and Luke started therapy the following week.  Thanks to ECI and physical therapist Leanne Armel in particular, Luke has been given the best head start his anxious parents could ever ask for.  While he ended up being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, you might not know that based on his happy personality, excellent communication skills, and rapidly improving motor skills.  “I know deep in my heart that Luke is going to live a full, well rounded life, but I also know that would not have been possible without ECI.  We are forever grateful for all the guidance and support Easter Seals has given not just to Luke, but to our entire family” said Sam, Luke’s mom. 


Avery

Avery is the youngest of four sisters.  She is a friendly, cheerful hard-working kid; and is our biggest motivator, cheerleader, and teacher.  As an infant, she was the perfect baby – she loved to sleep and rarely cried.  We noticed that she was very content, and didn’t wave her arms around or reach for toys.  As we weren’t rookies, we sensed something was different.  At her four-month checkup, she could not hold her head up and had not reached several milestones, so her pediatrician recommended we see a neurologist.  That started several years of doctor visits and tests with an army of doctors trying to determine the cause of her hypotonia, developmental delays, and cerebellar atrophy.  During this time of uncertainty, the constant was Avery’s excellent physical, occupational, and speech therapists and the support network provided by Avery’s school, other parents of special needs kids, and Easter Seals.  By the time she was three years old, Avery was participating in several programs with Easter Seals, including respite care, day camps, and summer camps.  Avery and her parents learned how to use her iPad as a communication device with Easter Seals’ BridgingApps.  She’s now a pro and uses her Novachat at home and at school.  Shortly after Avery finally got a diagnosis at age 10 (a genetic defect in her CACNA1A gene) from the Undiagnosed Diseases Program, she began attending The Caroline School and is now in her third year at the school.  She absolutely loves her teachers and the other students at the school.  One of Avery’s favorite activities has been going to sleep away camp at Camp for All with Easter Seals’ Camp Smiles.  We are so grateful for Easter Seals and the opportunities it has provided for Avery to socialize and learn with her friends.


Jack

Jack was his parents' first child. Before Jack was born, they knew about an issue with his bladder and kidneys, but could never have anticipated the journey ahead. Shortly after birth, Jack underwent surgery at Texas Children’s Hospital and spent three weeks in the NICU. In the coming months and years, Jack's list of medical problems multiplied. He has since undergone more than 10 surgeries- both planned and emergency. In addition to Jack’s complex medical needs, Jack also has developmental delays- gross motor, fine motor, and speech. While his family suspects that Jack has an underlying genetic condition, they are still searching for a diagnosis. He is enrolled in the Undiagnosed Diseases Network through Baylor and NIH, and his family is hopeful that one day they will have an answer. 

Despite the many unknowns, Jack has always responded very positively to therapies- physical, occupational, and speech. He has been attending therapy since he was two months old, and he continues to amaze everyone by his consistent gains. When Jack was 2 1/2 years old, his parents felt like he needed more socialization with other children. They discovered Easter Seals Greater Houston's The Caroline School through another special needs family, and knew immediately it was the right place for Jack. He was able to attend school part-time, keep all of his therapies, and benefit from educational and social interaction. Jack is now 5 years old, and he has made incredible progress since starting at The Caroline School- especially in communication. As his medical issues have evolved, the teachers have been able to accommodate Jack’s every need without question. His parents shared "we will always be grateful for the families we have met, the teachers and staff at The Caroline School, and Easter Seals Greater Houston."


William

Will was born in Nashville Tennessee and was inspired by his Step dad, who served as general counsel for the Army, to join the military in 2009. Will was stationed at Scholfield Barracks in Honolulu Hawaii, and had his first deployment in August 2011. While on a mission in 2012, his vehicle was hit by an 180-pound IED blast causing him to have many health complications and finally leading to having his leg amputated. This experience has caused Will to struggle with anxiety and PTSD, which his service dog, Charlie, has helped him cope with. The Thomas’s have had Charlie for several years now and have worked with a couple of dog trainers in the past in efforts to get him certified as a true professional service dog, but have not had good experiences with the training process until they connected with Easter Seals’ Veteran, Service Member and Military-Connected Family Services and Allie, the My Service Dog trainer. Easter Seals has made an impact in Will’s life by giving him the opportunity to train Charlie to become an official service dog and connect with other veterans in the community. The Thomas’s give a tremendous thanks to Easter Seals and Allie for their support and guidance to help make their beloved Charlie a true professional service dog, and providing an outlet whenever Will just needs someone to talk to.