Mall Walk is all about helping kids who maybe weren’t born with all the blessings the rest of us tend to take for granted. They need a little extra help to make the most of their abilities, and to have the best life possible! One youngster we’d like you to meet is Brandon, a resident here at Children’s Care. At last year’s Mall Walk, Brandon (with the help of his mom, Sara) was the top individual fundraiser! “The Mall Walk is a very big deal for our family,” says Sara, of George, IA. “It’s a way for us to give back to Children’s Care.” Brandon, now 13, came to the residential program at Children’s Care Hospital & School three-and-a-half years ago. It was a difficult decision for Sara and her husband Billy to have Brandon live away from home, but they knew they needed to set aside their own feelings and do what was best for their son. Brandon’s frustration with his inability to communicate was resulting in increasingly difficult behavior problems, and he wasn’t making gains in his learning. After researching residential programs in the region, Billy and Sara knew Children’s Care was the right place for Brandon. “Our first goal was to have him say, ‘I love you,’” says Sara. “He met that goal in three months. Since then, he’s made phenomenal progress. He is a completely different child.”
Brandon uses picture identification for much of his communication, and is increasing his verbal vocabulary as well. He’s learning social skills, and has lots of opportunities for activities with peers. He enjoys hanging out with friends and watching the movies “Cars” and “Shrek,” and he loves anything motorized, including tractors and riding mowers. He also loves bus rides, especially when the destination is Burger King or a pizza restaurant. The Children’s Care Auxiliary uses monies raised at the Mall Walk and through other fundraising projects to pay for the extras at Children’s Care. Brandon has benefited from their purchase of Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) books, classroom SmartBoards and software, special outings, school yearbooks, athletic equipment, and classroom supplies.
Sara says their ultimate goal has been for Brandon to be happy and enjoy life, and she says he surpassed that goal a long time ago. “He’s SO happy at Children’s Care,” says Sara. “It’s absolutely amazing how far he’s come. He wouldn’t be who he is today without them.”