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Monday, April 23, 2012

Featured Article in the Arrow

This story was featured (edited version appeared in the magazine) regarding Taylor.

  It's not ALL of her story, but a good part of it.  Enjoy and BE INSPIRED!

Our daughter, Taylor, was born with “special needs”.  When she was first born, the pediatrician told us there “may” be something wrong and it appeared that she had “low muscle tone”. 
How could that be?  We were both only 24 years old.  My husband, David, was a health freak, not eating sugar, caffeine or alcohol and going to the gym 5 days a week.  I followed every step of the doctor’s advice.  I ate what I was supposed to, didn’t touch what I wasn’t supposed to and here we were, being told our baby could have challenges.
After exhaustive tests, we discovered that Taylor had a rare (only 60 known cases in the world) chromosome disorder and no one knew her future.
So we were thrust into a world we barely knew existed.  Taylor was constantly sick and in the hospital with pneumonia.  And when she wasn’t sick, she was in every physical and occupational therapy program available. 
Two happy go lucky college sweethearts who never faced a serious challenge now were forced to be ferocious advocates for their daughter,  questioning every medical “expert” and their latest attempt to help Taylor.  We were constantly told that we were doing the wrong thing, told our daughter could die and “did we really want that to happen?”  Most times, when we felt Taylor didn’t need something, we were right.  The few times the doctors did things we didn’t think she needed, she got very ill.
We were talked into a $15,000 wheelchair that Taylor was unable to use and we donated it shortly after purchasing it. We were convinced to give her a vaccine which landed her in the hospital for two weeks.
But through all the trials, tears and frustrations, we learned a lot about life and changed our views on a lot of things.
When Taylor was four, we started a charity called Bids for Kids. This was to benefit the Children’s Therapy Department at Mary Bridge Children’s hospital in Tacoma Washington.  This event has led to the raising of over $1 million dollars.  Even though we moved away in 2000, this event is still carried on by amazing group of women now The Jean Cunningham Orthopedic Guild. 
Over the years we have had the support of many friends and family. My best friend from college also a Pi Phi (Marylou Hill Ferry) has been with us along our journey.  Many of my sorority sisters live in different states but I continue to keep in touch and keep them informed of Taylor’s health.
Over the years our path has been made by Taylor, she shows us the way and we meet people because of her. She has been our teacher and it’s amazing the things you can learn from a child who can not walk or speak. But if you are ever so lucky to meet her or any child with special needs you will soon find out what I mean.
 We moved our family to California, although our business remains in Washington, for Taylor’s health and found that the best thing for her was dry air and sunshine (and it wasn’t too bad for the rest of the family either).
We learned that there are many families in similar or worse circumstances all over the country.  And there are many people and organizations that do wonderful things for this population.
I learned that I can administer shots, medicines, tube feedings and all the other techniques for taking care of Taylor that were completely foreign to me when she was born.
Taylor has taught us tremendous perspective.  So much that we found that my husband had a hidden talent, author!  He’s written a book called “Gaining Perspective, Lessons I’m learning from Taylor” (available on Amazon http://tinyurl.com/73lkk4f and for Kindle http://tinyurl.com/7bxv2jkand via his website www.taylorsperspective.com)
And we learned most of all, to trust our instincts when it comes to raising a daughter with special needs.  There is no handbook and each parent must forge their own path.  And to every parent that is given one of these very special people, you DO have the strength and the knowledge to do what’s right.  People often say we’re amazing for what we do with Taylor.  We do simply what needs to be done, and if faced with a similar situation, you could too.

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