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Chad C.

I can't speak for all children, but I can speak for mine.

From the moment Michelle heard the nurses whispering after the birth of her son, Chad, she knew something was wrong.

Leading up to that day in the delivery room, she had no reason to think anything was other than perfect. Even when she finally laid eyes on her newborn son, perfect was all that came to mind. 

She noticed that his arms and legs were contracted, tucked into his body and keeping him in the fetal position, but that’s not all she saw. 

She saw his small whisps of hair, his delicate eyelashes, and a son she already loved unconditionally.

Michelle would later learn that Chad was born with a rare condition called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), which causes painful joint contractures and stiffness with muscle weakness.

(This is not Chad, but you can see what AMC can look like at birth.)

“He was born into the fetal position,” Michelle said, “And he stayed in that position.”

AMC can affect any muscle in the body, including those you might not think of, like the heart or tongue. While Chad doesn’t have those specific challenges, his experience is rare in that it impacts both his upper and lower extremities. Michelle’s pediatrician had never even seen it before. 

Though she encountered some good doctors and specialists along the way, this is really where Michelle became more than a mom – she became an advocate for her son.

It started in elementary school. Chad had some obvious physical challenges, he even got his first wheelchair at age 3, but cognitively, he was a bright and intelligent grade-schooler. But the school district couldn’t see past his wheelchair and placed him in a special needs classroom. 

Michelle knew Chad would thrive in a mainstream class if he had room for his wheelchair and someone to assist him with small tasks, so she fought for the district to provide a paraprofessional, a person trained to help and assist.

“I realized pretty early on that I couldn’t speak for all children, but I could speak for mine,” Michelle told us.

It continued that way, like the year that Chad signed up to play wheelchair soccer, and Michelle fielded calls from other parents saying he was going too fast. (“He had the speed on his wheelchair turned all the way up,” Michelle laughed. “I let him keep it that way.”)

Or the time she got Home Depot to build an accessible bathroom for Chad in their home, even after they told her she didn’t qualify. 

“It’s a long story,” she said. “But my husband was a motorcycle cop, and his colleague wrecked his bike. As he was recovering from his injuries, Home Depot helped fix his house. Home Depot has an organization that will provide for Veterans or people with disabilities. Still, when we asked about renovating our bathroom for Chad, they emailed me back and said they don’t help individuals, only organizations.”

“But I knew about my husband’s colleague who got their help. So we emailed them, and they came out to take a look. Later, Home Depot paid for all the material for the accessible bathroom, and Romanoff Renovations did the work themselves. It was such a blessing to us, but we did have to fight for it.”

She can’t speak for everyone – but she can speak for her son. 

The two have faced a lot together, but they always find a way forward. Not too long after Chad was born, Michelle remarried, and her husband became a father figure to Chad. Later, his little brother Cody came along to help round out their family.

Things were starting to look up, and they were able to find positivity even amongst the hard times. Chad learned how to make things from leather, watching YouTube videos to hone his skill. He loves hunting and fishing, spending as much time outdoors as possible. 

And when Michelle’s father-in-law passed away a few years ago, he was adamant that the family use the inheritance to get a reliable wheelchair-accessible van for Chad. They paid cash for a 2013 Dodge Grand Caravan. 

It did the trick for many years but started having more and more problems until, eventually, it stopped working. “We had no idea how we would ever get another,” Michelle said.

Then came another blow.

Michelle’s husband and Chad and Cody’s father passed away from complications of Covid-19 in October 2021. They were reeling – not just mourning the loss of someone they loved so much but also questioning how they could survive with the loss of his income.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I called AMS Vans,” Michelle told us. “And they said, ‘Well, have you ever heard of Chive Charities?’”

Michelle got to work, filling out the application and anxiously waiting to hear back on if they had been approved or not. She couldn’t speak for every child, but she could speak for her son. 

The long-awaited answer came when we jumped on a Zoom call to surprise them with the good news:

Through the support of people like you reading stories like this one, Chive Charities was able to fully fund the cost of a 2022 Chrysler Pacifica from our friends and partners at AMS Vans. (Special thanks to the team for sharing our name and spreading the word about Chive Charities!) The total impact was $50,000.

For once, Michelle didn’t have to fight. She only had to ask.

“We’re always told no, but I keep fighting,” she said. “I research and do whatever I can to get him what he deserves. If it’s out there and they keep telling me no, I feel like it’s my responsibility to fight for him. There are a lot of people that deserve this, not just Chad, and I always tell these people, ‘Why are you holding this all so close?’ There are so many people who need help.”

“We just can’t thank y’all enough for being the people who actually help families like ours.”

To that, we say thank you to the donors who make this life-changing work of ours possible. Chive Charities can only fill the gaps where insurance and other resources cannot because of your selfless contributions. It’s that simple. Michelle and Chad got the help they needed because they asked for it. And we were able to answer because of you

Like Michelle, we can’t speak for everyone. But for every Veteran, military family, first responder, or rare medical individual who reaches out to us for help, you can bet we’ll fight for them. With your help, that 10% happier is only getting bigger. DONATE HERE.

Chad C.'s Updates

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