Everyone wants to be part of a great story, and our children have stories that are inspiring and courageous. Here are a few.
Kyrie D’Angelo Davis was born April 1st, 2017, 26 weeks and 6 days at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jackson, MS. At, 4 days old Kyrie developed an bacterial infection MRSA. It took weeks to cure with several antibiotics. At, 12 days old Kyrie was diagnosed with NEC and was transported to Baston’s Children’s Hospital where the performed his first two surgeries. The disease NEC is an devasting disease that affect mostly the intestine of premature infants because there intestines aren’t fully developed. Kyrie lost his colon and some of his small intestine. Which means that his bowel movements are very lose and acidic. For 10 months Kyrie had an ileostomy, and was reversed at 11 months old. Kyrie came home from the NICU June 8th, 2017 having to see 5 different specialist plus his pediatrician. Today Kyrie is 17 months/13 months corrected, he now sees 1 specialist and his pediatrician. God is simply amazing. We can only pray that the road continues to get better as Kyrie thrives.
Anna Benton is 3 years old and began having seizures within her first week of life. She was born with cleft hands and had two hand surgeries to separate her fingers. At two years old, she was diagnosed with a rare progressively degenerative genetic condition which causes developmental delay, seizures, and spasticity in her arms and legs. We heard about the Little Lighthouse from a friend and we put Anna Benton on the waiting list. She started in August and we have been so pleased with how much she interacts with others. We have been so blessed by The Little Lighthouse teachers and staff. We know she is enjoying her time there and we feel at ease knowing she is being cared for by wonderful people!
Grace Fornea is our fun loving, free spirited 2.5 year old. She loves to tell everyone “Hey” when she walks into a room. She lights up a room with her smile and laugh, and enjoys dancing. She spends a good bit of time watching her big brother play sports and loves to cheer him on.
She was born February 11, 2016 and we received a birth diagnosis of Down syndrome. With a little time, lots of education and support, we jumped into this new community and found ourselves on the waiting list at LLH. Grace Fornea started LLH in August 2017 and what a blessing they are to us! We know our girl is loved, pushed to her potential and supported by everyone at LLH. We are so thankful for LLH and all the buddies that Grace Fornea and our family have made along the way.
Vaida was born in May 2014 with a virus called Cytomegalovirus (CMV) which caused calcification on her brain, microcephaly and hearing loss. We had never heard of CMV before Vaida was diagnosed with it. That was a very scary time in our lives as we had no idea what to expect- even if Vaida would ever be able to walk, talk or communicate.
When she was 3 months old, her physical therapist told us to get on the waiting list for The Little Light House. I was very surprised when she said that because I thought to myself, “That’s not us. She won’t need to go there.” Boy was I wrong. Luckily, I went ahead and filled out the application and tried to learn more about The Little Light House. After 2 years on the waiting list, Vaida finally started in August 2016.
Vaida currently functions at about the level of a 1 year old. She was diagnosed with spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy in December 2016. She is totally deaf in her right ear but has not lost any more of her hearing which is common with CMV. Her progress is very slow but it’s still progress. Vaida has 5 appointments a week where she receives occupational, physical, speech and feeding therapy outside of school. She is working on walking with a walker, pulling up to stand, producing new words/sounds and eating solid foods.
Since starting at The Little Light House, Vaida has learned almost 100 signs. This helps immensely with communication as she can only say about 15-20 words. She has begun crawling, using her stander, pointing, responding with yes/no, selecting objects from a small group, drinking from a cup and straw, and eating more solid foods. These may seem like they are small things but they are huge to us. You don’t realize how many milestones there are until you have a child that takes months or years to reach them. And for that, we celebrate ALL of them! The classroom time and extra therapy she receives at The Little Light House is helping her reach milestones and exceed our expectations.
Francie was born in 2014 and came into our family through the help of the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network. With her, we entered a new world of surgeries and therapies. Since Francie’s birth, we have met so many wonderful, encouraging, and helpful people. The Little Light House has been a big part of that encouragement and help. We were so thankful that Francie was able to begin attending TLLH when she was 10 months old, and we have seen her grow and develop by leaps and bounds since she started school. Now at 3 and a half, Francie is a happy, healthy toddler. Since she’s been at TLLH, she has gone from learning to sit up to running and climbing. She’s also learned to eat foods with texture and drink from a straw. She knows about 17 signs and we are realizing all the time she’s doing signs that we didn’t even know! We are so thankful for the guidance of the wonderful teachers and therapists at TLLH. Francie has added much joy and love to our lives, and we feel so blessed to be her family.
Riley Kate was born on January 12th 2016. She is a happy, loving, energetic 2 year old. She loves her big brother, music, dancing, and being outside. She never passes up a chance to cruise the neighborhood on the golf cart. She wins everyone over with her huge contagious smile.
Riley Kate was diagnosed with Down Syndrome and a heart defect during 2nd trimester of my pregnancy. She was born with a balanced atrioventricular canal heart defect. She had open heart surgery to correct it at 6 months old.
Riley Kate started TLLH in January of 2018. Even though we have only been there for a short time it’s been the most rewarding thing we have done this far for her. She loves it there. And seeing all the love that she gets from everyone there just melts my heart. Not only is this a tuition free school for her to learn everything that she will need to start kindergarten it’s also a group of people that are becoming family to us. We are extremely lucky that God has lead us to TLLH. We will be forever grateful for everyone and everything that we get from TLLH. We can’t wait to see Riley Kate blossom into the smart little girl that we know she is.
Sawyer is a precious happy 3-year-old boy who loves lights & toys that spin. The Little Light House has been such a blessing to Sawyer and our family. He has shown tremendous growth & improvement in his time at The Little Light House. This school year Sawyer has learned to pull up to stand from sit, stand while leaning against something, learned to give a high five, taking steps in his walker, drink from a cup & straw, learned how to chew, pull spoon to his mouth to eat, mimic sounds & making new sounds. As a parent, it is such a wonderful feeling to know that he is loved, cared for, & safe every day & surrounded by wonderful Christian teachers and volunteers.
Olivia’s Bible Verse- “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
The birth of Olivia Elise was joy to our family. She lights up the room where ever she goes. After overcoming brain surgery at 5 months old, we became worried about the next step because she was growing & doing well. Shortly after her first birthday, I saw a Facebook post about The Little Lighthouse School. I contacted the school and Olivia was placed on the waiting list! Olivia began school in August 2015 when she was 2yrs old. She could not walk, communicate, feed herself, and still used baby bottles. Now, 3 years later, at the age of 5 Olivia can vocalize a few words and use a communication board to interact with others, she feeds herself with a spoon, she not only walks but runs all the time, and can use straw sippy cups. Progression at its best! We are grateful for the teachers & therapists at the school.
He is a little brother to two big sisters, Madison and Meredith. God gave him to us on April 27, 2011. Within a couple of days after he was born, I knew something was a little different because of a consistent rapid movement happening in his eyes. It was a gut feeling I couldn’t shake and wouldn’t leave alone until I found an answer. We soon discovered he had congenital Nystagmus. This small diagnosis didn’t seem like much, but it was the start to uncovering a chain of different neurological conditions. He has been diagnosed with congenital muscular myopathy, speech/language expressive disorder, ADHD, and struggles with a few sensory processing things (touch and sound). We settled for a little while on these labels and accepted it, but I still felt something was overlooked. I noticed how he was more withdrawn from peers, struggled emotionally when his daily routine was interrupted, and he would express his feelings using words that didn’t fit. For example, whenever he was/is happy at home, he will say “GOLF CART!” He loves the mess out of golf carts and even has little toy golf carts all over his bedroom he plays with! But, just in everyday life, he will say “GOLF CART” to express when he is happy. It dawned on me, that the first moment he felt a thrilling feeling of excitement, was when he rode on a golf cart one day. Ever since then, he has paired that word and experience together and will even to this day, say “Golf Cart” when he’s excited about something. He was doing things like this off and on. Although these are cute and funny expressions Harrison was showing, I took it as a red flag that it needed to be addressed and looked into further. Through many tears, researching, talking to others and his doctors, I decided to get him tested and evaluated through the Child Development Clinic. This past summer at the age of 4, he was placed on the Autism Spectrum.
Harrison’s journey into The Little Lighthouse is truly orchestrated by God. Harrison was enrolled in a local preschool program at the age of 1. During his first year at the preschool, I noticed he was behind developmentally from other typical children his age. I am a graphic designer, but put that on hold to take a job as an assistant preschool teacher where he was enrolled. By being in his academic/social environment, I was able to get into his world full time and see how he interacted outside of the home. It was then where I truly discovered he was developmentally delayed. He seemed to be in his own world, had no interest in learning colors, shapes, and all that goes along with a preschool class. He couldn’t keep up with his classmates even as a 2year old. He didn’t understand simple commands like standing in line and sitting down for story time. We decided to place him on the waiting list with The Little Lighthouse. About 8 months later, The Little Lighthouse called to let us know a spot had opened up for him. I am extremely grateful and blessed God opened a door for our little man. That was an answered prayer for our family because he was getting a true shot at life and being a part of a school that fit him and his pace of learning! He started there in January of 2014. At that time, Harrison had only 3 words in his vocabulary, was in his own world, had trouble with transitions, and we weren’t even sure he knew his name.
We have been enrolled with The Little Lighthouse for two years now. He is now saying new words on a regular basis. He can recognize objects and name them, follows one and two step directions, and is encouraged to take on a task for a little positive reinforcement. (Stickers are a big deal!) Harrison now recognizes his name when called and said it back to his teacher for the first time a year ago! He has come out of his shell to interact with his peers and initiates playtime with friends and family. These little milestones are such a big deal and couldn’t have been achieved had we not found The Little Lighthouse. We are so humbled and blessed to have this AMAZING school that is helping him reach his full potential. This tuition free school that is strictly funded by the donations of others, is the ONLY reason why kids like Harrison have a real shot at life. We are extremely thankful for those precious individuals and the staff at The Little Lighthouse for making this possible in our area. Because of The Little Lighthouse, Harrison is a little guy who is now Full of Life, BIG Smiles, and High Fives. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.