In this 50 Stories for 50 Years, the Foundation shares a letter received from Bloomington resident Curt White regarding his personal experience with both 100 Men Who Cook and IU Health Children’s Therapy.
An Open Letter to Our Community:
I want to share what a special experience it was to attend 100 Men Who Cook on Saturday, May 13, at the Monroe Convention Center. It was a wonderful event in support of IU Health Bloomington Hospital Children’s Therapy. What made the event particularly special to me is that I work for one of the corporate sponsors, Boston Scientific, and my daughter has physical and speech therapy at Children’s Therapy every week.
My daughter, Nora, has been through treatment for brain cancer three times over the last seven years. Among other operations, Nora has had several brain surgeries ranging from her 13-hour craniotomy with tumor resection to shunt placement and revision. Nora has a lot of physical challenges related to surgical complications like cranial nerve damage as well as from toxicities from all the chemotherapy and radiation to which she’s been subjected. Following Nora’s initial craniotomy, she developed a condition called Posterior Fossa Syndrome. I would describe that condition as being like the voluntary movement part of her brain was unplugged from her body. Nora’s vital signs were nearly always stable, but she couldn’t walk, speak, swallow, roll over or even hold her head up. She was three and a half years old, knew everything she’d known before, but her mobility had reverted to that of an infant. She had to learn to do literally everything again.
Nora has benefited greatly from her positive “can do” attitude and the variety of services offered at Children’s Therapy. I lack the words to express how truly wonderful the people who work there are. What they do is more than a job to them, it is a mission. We have been impressed with every single person with whom we’ve interacted from back when the therapy center was located upstairs from Nora’s pediatrician’s office on Landmark Drive to the wonderful facility on Arlington Road in Ellettsville. They’re great. The present facility is also great. There are several private rooms for exercise and one on one sessions, a nice gymnasium with a truly awesome tree house, and a very nice outdoor playground.
Karen, Nora’s speech therapist, volunteered at 100 Men Who Cook. Seeing her there brightened my evening. Nora has profound hearing loss in both ears. During Nora’s weekly speech therapy sessions, Karen not only helps Nora learn to make the correct consonant sounds, she also helps Nora develop the tools she will need to effectively communicate in general. Those essential tools include maintaining eye contact, repeating things back to a person to confirm she heard them correctly, and speaking louder and with more force to ensure she is heard. It is awesome to see Nora continually apply the skills she is learning.
Hannah, Nora’s physical therapist was initially focused on making sure Nora would be safe. When Nora meets a set of goals another set of goals is established. Nora’s present regimen mostly includes exercises that will help her build strength. Last year we asked Hannah if she would complete some of the application documents so Nora might be considered for the placement of a service dog. Hanna completed the forms and then asked us to hold off on submission of the application. Hanna didn’t think the forms were sufficient and wanted to draft a personal letter to plead Nora’s case. Nora is now approved and on a waiting list to receive a service dog. We are very excited.
Every step of the way, the therapists talk with Nora’s mother and me to ensure they are focusing on the right things – to ensure we all have the same objectives and Nora’s best interests in mind. With their help, Nora gets stronger and more capable every week. Nora is learning the skills she will need to be as independent as possible when she grows up. It is a tremendous blessing to have such a great facility and a dedicated staff in our area.
I don’t want to create the impression that our story is unique. From what I’ve seen, Nora’s case is not an exception at Children’s Therapy. I’ve seen all the therapists making close personal connections with the kids they are helping. And I’ve seen countless care givers celebrate the smallest victories, those little signs of progress as the therapists share what was accomplished that day.
I have been to a lot of places, but I’ve never seen a place where every employee has such a personal interest in helping others. Their grace, compassion and dedication are what make it so wonderful. The kids who go to Children’s Therapy do not have it easy. These kids struggle every day more than anyone should have to. That makes the fact that it’s such a happy place even more remarkable.
I feel a great sense of pride to work for a company that is helping to sponsor Bloomington Hospital’s Children’s Therapy. I know many of the families who require their services are not in a position to cover the costs, so it is great that there are so many people and companies willing to dedicate the time and resources needed to support organizations like this. Saturday I felt a strong sense of community as many hundreds of people gathered together to support this cause.
I would like to sincerely and personally thank the Bloomington Hospital Foundation, Old National Bank, Boston Scientific and the other corporate sponsors for making the event possible. I would also like to thank the “100 Men Who Cook” for all the awesome food and for making the event a fun and great success. Finally I want to express my appreciation for the people at Children’s Therapy. What they do matters; they are impacting a lot of lives in very positive ways.
100 Men Who Cook was a great event for a good cause. I was blown away at the end of the evening when it was revealed that over $128,000 was raised – more than double their goal. Awesome.