Hey everyone, it’s your friendly neighborhood charity, and we’d like to introduce you to someone. This adorable five-year-old is named Isaiah. As you can see, Isaiah has one of those smiles that you can’t ignore. He shines with a radiant warmth that seems to say “hey, everything is gonna be just fine.” While we as a community, nation, and world, face an indeterminate period of uncertainty, smiles like these are worth more than all the gold and toilet paper left on this planet.
Perhaps the thing that makes Isaiah’s smile so amazing are the lessons we can learn from it. You see, this little guy has faced uncertainty his entire life, in ways you and I can’t imagine. He
was born with an extremely rare genetic condition called Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome (AHDS). AHDS brings with it a slew of symptoms including hypotonia (low muscle tone), weakness and spasticity of the muscles, and severe cognitive delays.
Since his muscle tone so low, Isaiah had to undergo his first surgery as a nine-month-old baby, to have a G-tube placed for feeding.
While ADHS does everything it can to hold his body hostage, Isaiah simply won’t accept the limitations his condition threatens him with. Behind that smile is a determined and relentless little warrior, who conquers every task with joy and optimism.
When ADHS said he can’t walk, Isaiah said “watch me!” With the help of this adaptive wheelchair, and a lot of hard work at physical therapy on Isaiah’s part, he gets around so he can do the things he loves to do.
His list of ‘loves’ are a lot more similar to other kids’ than you might assume. His smile offers us yet another lesson in this way: even if we are all different,at our core, we all want the same thing. Isaiah is the happiest when he is around people, playing and being talked to. Isaiah is a happy, easy-going child, but he clearly longs for a lot of the same things other children his age desire.
Isaiah inspires his mom, Nadya, and his stepfather, Scott, to face the world fearlessly. When we asked Nadya how her family was handling the current events that are affecting all of us, but especially those with immunocompromised kids like hers, she told us this:
“I do not worry about things I cannot change. For us, each day presents new challenges alongside new successes that we cherish.”
This family has faced so much, from being told their child would never be able to speak using his voice, or walk unassisted, or sit up in a chair. For them, the sense of worry and uneasiness we are all feeling now as this pandemic intensifies is just another day. This life of uneasiness has taught them to find solace and comfort in the thing that will always hold steady: their love for each other.
Life’s difficulties have also put forth a lot of challenges to Isaiah, and every single time, he has stepped up and done the work needed to get through them. This small but mighty fighter is currently learning communication through eye gaze, and gets weekly speech therapy to this end, as well as physical therapy to develop his strength. His favorite of all, however, is equine therapy.
Like every single one of us, Isaiah loves animals, and to be outside. What better way for him to help develop his strength, balance, and interaction skills than on a horse!
Isaiah’s best pal, Pippin, is his therapy pony. Equine therapy is not just a fun time for Isaiah; it provides exercise and balance that is essential for his development. Balancing on the horse builds his core muscle strength and endurance, posture, and gives his joints much-needed mobility. Riding also teaches him body coordination and expands his senses.
Isaiah has already shown remarkable and positive improvement, results his family was too afraid to even hope for when they were applying for the equine program. Like so many of our recipients, Nadya was worried about having the door shut in her face when they applied for Isaiah’s therapy. The program advertised that they accept “all abilities,” but Nadya would believe it when she saw it. Luckily for their family, as soon as Isaiah got on Pippin’s back, it was obvious that this was the right move, and that equine therapy would become a necessary part of Isaiah’s life.
When we say we want to make the world 10% Happier, this is exactly what we’re talking about. Isaiah’s family didn’t ask us for the world, although they do deserve it. They simply asked us to help them buy some mobility items that Isaiah needs and the equine therapy that is helping him thrive. Chive Charities donors were able to fund the $7,400 needed for the grant. This money from our donors covers a year of equine therapy, as well as a Special Tomato recliner support system to that positions Isaiah’s hips and pelvis while he sits, and a Special Tomato jogger, which is a special stroller that holds his body upright so that Isaiah can get out and enjoy the outdoors safely and comfortably. Isaiah’s smile shows us that the impact is greater than you or I could have imagined.
We know that times are tough right now. One thing that we can all take solace in is that, for probably the only time in our lives, the entire world is united in struggle, and the sense of responsibility we have for each other is at the forefront of our collective mind. If there were ever a time to look out for some of society’s most vulnerable underdogs, it’s now. Whether it’s a one-time donation, or a monthly promise to give whatever amount you can spare for kids like Isaiah, you will be making a huge difference in real, human lives, and you can get started right HERE!