Schreiber Pediatric Names 2015 Ambassadors

(Lancaster, PA) – Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center has named its 2015 Ambassador children. All four will be formally introduced at the Center’s 33rd Annual Gala March 28 at the Lancaster Country Club.

Emily Graver, 12, of Holtwood, started coming to Schreiber after surgery in December 2012 to remove part of her brain, a procedure known as a hemispherectomy. It was done to treat Rasmussen’s syndrome, an inflammation of the brain that causes uncontrollable seizures. With part of the left side of her brain gone, Emily has had to work to regain the use of her right arm, hand and leg. She had to learn to walk and talk again, which she is doing well thanks to her dedication and the amazing therapists here at Schreiber.
“Emily is a walking, talking miracle,” wrote Laurie Miller, her Schreiber occupational therapist, in her Ambassador nomination form. “After being told she would never walk again, Emily decided she was going to prove everybody wrong. She demonstrates what we strive to do here at Schreiber every day – ‘turn disabilities into abilities.'”

Alexander Johanning, 8, of Lancaster, was born with Down syndrome, a genetic chromosomal disorder that causes intellectual disabilities and developmental delays. He started coming to Schreiber at a young age, and he receives occupational and speech therapy to help him speak more clearly (as he loves to talk) and to improve his physical strength and stamina. He’s also working on some of his fine motor skills.
His parents developed a list of goals and strategies – four pages worth – that they wanted Alex to aim for in 2014. They also keep him busy with Cub Scouts and acting classes at the Fulton Theatre.
OT Kim Martin and speech therapist Abby Zell noticed the parental support. His family has always had high aspirations and goals for him, and they see Alex being successful in his various activities.
“He is an example of how his hard work is paying off,” they wrote.

Sienna “SiSi” Matthews, 4 of Lititz, has been coming to Schreiber since she was 18 months old. Her mom Ashley says SiSi was diagnosed with symptoms related to cerebellar ataxia syndrome. People with this diagnosis might show a broad array of symptoms, all of which are tied to abnormalities in the cerebellum, an area of the brain generally associated with motor skills. SiSi came to Schreiber to improve her balance and coordination, her leg and core strength, the clarity of her speech and her hand-eye coordination.
To work on all that, SiSi receives physical, occupational and speech therapy. Ashley says SiSi couldn’t walk when she started at Schreiber.
“Now, she can run, something we’d never thought she would do,” she says.
“I am so thankful for the Schreiber Pediatric community, and so is (SiSi),” Ashley says. “She loves going to Schreiber every day. I know the best choice I ever made for my child was sending her to Schreiber.”

Anthony Melendez, 4, of Lancaster, has had a pretty tough time in his 4-1/2 years. He was born with several serious medical issues. He’s still battling a hearing loss in one ear, a feeding disorder, low muscle tone and chronic lung disease. And he has speech and language delays. On top of that, the family lost Anthony’s dad Peter following a terminal illness when Anthony was 3.
Anthony doesn’t let any of that stop him from being at therapy twice a week. He works on sounding out words. He works on strengthening his core strength and learning to hold a pencil correctly and use scissors.
He’s working on his food aversion, too, but he has a ways to go on that: He still has a gastronomy tube to make sure he’s getting the nutrients he needs.
“Anthony has come so far and continues to amaze me,” his mom Jennifer says. “I have no doubt that he can accomplish anything and everything he wants,” she says.

Editor’s Note: High-resolution photography is available by contacting Dan Fink at