May 16, 2014 is a day I will never forget. Our daughter Adli, at 22 months old, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy—something you can never prepare yourself for as a first-time parent. Fast forward three years, and I’m amazed by how she has adapted. Both of her legs are affected, which makes it difficult for her to walk. But at her third birthday party, she walked across the living floor all on her own, shocking those in attendance and bringing tears to my eyes. This spring, I watched her ride a bike. Next year she’ll begin kindergarten. It seems nothing can slow her down.
My husband and I will be the first to tell you that it isn’t always easy raising a child who has special needs, but we’ll also be the first to tell you how incredibly blessed and lucky we are to have Adli in our lives. We’re grateful that her cerebral palsy isn’t an extreme case; however, she still has many challenges to face in the future. It’s constantly our goal to do everything in our power to make sure she has what she needs to overcome them.
There are so many additional costs that factor into our lives because of Adli’s needs. We travel three hours to Gillette Children’s every three months so Adli can receive Botox injections to help loosen the tight muscles in her legs and every other week she heads to physical therapy, which is 25 minutes away. We’ve been extremely lucky to have such an amazing support system in our friends, family and community, and we cannot appreciate enough those who have helped us emotionally and financially. We know how difficult it can be sometimes, and that’s why in March, for cerebral palsy awareness month, we wanted to give back.
We sold T-shirts with the logo “#hopeforadli.” Our goal was to raise $500 and donate that money to help others who have cerebral palsy. After two rounds of t-shirt sales, we’re ecstatic to say we were able to donate $1,000 for Gillette, which serves as the Minnesota affiliate for United Cerebral Palsy. Amazing. Being that Adli’s favorite part of the fundraising was wearing and sharing the “hopeforadli” shirt, she’s a little young to grasp the impact the donation will have. But raising that money means a lot to us, and helping others means even more. We’re beaming with pride knowing that our little girl has inspired so many of those around her.
Day-to-day concerns still roll through our heads. We worry about Adli trying to keep up with her 2-year-old brother, Axton, and getting discouraged, but then she continues to surprise us. Oftentimes we wonder if he can keep up with her! They’re always by each other’s side; whether she’s holding his hand while in the store, pulling him in the wagon down the street, giving him rides around the house, or even pushing him in his swing. She doesn't recognize her setbacks and neither does he—this is our normalcy. We wouldn’t have it any other way.