“It was right after the events of September 11, and I wanted to do my part,” he told us. “But I was also intrigued by the thought of being able to retire after 20 years at age 39.”
One of the biggest benefits of his time in service, though, would be something he never saw coming and never could have planned for. After Lloyd met his now wife, Natalie, they were excited to start a family and welcomed their first child, a daughter they named Brinley. Not long after, Natalie realized she was pregnant again - this time, with a son.
“We knew pretty early on that something was going on with the baby’s heart,” Natalie told us. “But it wasn’t until I was closer to 28 weeks along that we learned more about what was going on.”
The baby was diagnosed with a rare medical condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), a multi-system genetic disease that causes non-cancerous tumors to grow in the brain and on other vital organs like the kidneys, heart, eyes, lungs, and skin.
“We had never heard of TSC before, but all we knew was that we wanted to give him more time to develop,” Natalie said.
Unfortunately, fate had other plans, and less than two weeks later, Natalie noticed she couldn’t feel the baby moving as much. When they hooked her up to the heart rate monitor, his was racing at more than 300 beats per minute. The baby needed to be born now.
Lloyd Jr. (“Bub”) was born seizing, a sight that neither parent will forget. He was immediately flown by medical helicopter to Shands Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, Florida, approximately four hours from their home in Panama City.
“We had such incredible support from our family and friends from the very beginning,” Natalie said. “I don’t know how we would have gotten through it without them.”
At one point, a friend from their church paid to have a limo and driver take Natalie - who was recovering from her c-section and needed to be able to lay down - on the four-hour drive to be with her baby in Gainesville.
It was a really scary and uncertain time for all of them. Bub was in a precarious situation, and eventually, the doctors and medical staff pulled Lloyd and Natalie aside and quietly told them to take Bub home and put him on hospice.
“So we did take him home,” Natalie explained. “But we couldn’t bring ourselves to call hospice. It just seemed so dire. That was 11 years ago, and he’s still here with us.”
Bub is a real-life miracle, and he’s overcome tremendous odds, fighting against more challenges than many of us could even imagine.
In the last few years, he’s had heart surgery, a Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS) implant, and a corpus callosotomy - a brain surgery that splits the two hemispheres of the brain in an effort to control unmanageable seizure activity.
Seizures are probably the biggest barrier for him, and the day we called to meet the family and hear more of his story, Bub was home from school for the day because they couldn’t seem to get his seizures under control.
But Bub is such an awesome and resilient kid that he nearly always has a smile on his face and a positive attitude, bouncing around the house even on the worst of days.
“He’s taught us that every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day,” Natalie said.
When Bub isn’t cuddling with his two yellow labs (Millie and Gator) or playing with flashlights (one of his all-time favorite toys), he’s either hanging out with his sisters Brinley and Briella or going on family bike rides.
In the last few years, bicycles have become a big part of Bub’s life. When the family was stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, someone gifted them an adaptive bicycle.
“We didn’t know the family, but we went to this culdesac street to pick it up, and as soon as we put Bub on the bike, he just took off,” Natalie laughed. “He peeled out of there with a huge smile on his face!”
Recently though, they realized he was outgrowing the bike, and it might be time to try to find a new one.
Lloyd just completed his 20 years of service in 2022, so he first tried to find out if Tricare would cover the cost for him. That wasn’t possible. Then, he was connected with Jaydene from Freedom Concepts, and she asked him if he had ever heard of Chive Charities.
“She said, ‘I think this might be an organization that can help you guys get this bike for Bub,’” Lloyd told us.
These are exactly the sort of families we were created to help. And because of a donor community that’s always looking out for those who’ve served (and their families), we were able to step in once again.
Our Green Ribbon Fund members made it possible for us to fully fund the cost of a new adaptive bicycle for Bub from Freedom Concepts that he can use long into adulthood. The total impact was $6,655.
“This bike means more to him than just getting outside with his family,” Natalie explained. “It gives him a sense of independence and freedom that he otherwise doesn’t have. Bub has a lot on his plate, but we treat him like a normal kid the best we can, and this helps make that possible. Thank you to everyone who donated and supported our family!”
Every day may not be good, but there’s good in every day. Bub is living proof of that statement, and today, people like you helped bring a little more good into the day – and into their lives. How about you come along with us as we send more good out into the world? Join us and DONATE HERE.