Here are this year’s Ambassadors.
Kami Appleby is a 2-year-old bundle of blonde, blue-eyed cuteness. She’s been coming to Schreiber since July 2016. Kami was less than a year old when she became ill with transverse myelitis, an inflammation of the spinal cord. The illness, which attacked her neck, left the previously healthy baby paralyzed from the neck down.
She has worked through physical and occupational therapy to regain her lost mobility, increase her core strength and improve her fine motor skills. Her mom Juliann says Kami now has enough strength to walk with the aid of a walker and will soon be using forearm crutches.
“Kami has had a wonderful experience so far at Schreiber,” Juliann says. “We are so thankful to her therapists for always trying something new with her, to push her farther in her recovery. We truly feel like it’s a team effort to help her, and we are blessed to have such an awesome team.”
Paxton and Giuliana Grasso
Paxton Grasso showed up for his Ambassador photo shoot in suspenders and an old-fashioned newsboy cap. His sister Giuliana had a blue dress with a pink headband and pearls. They both looked like they stepped out of a 1920s fashion catalog. And they both have bubbly personalities, in spite of some pretty significant challenges.
Paxton, at 4 the younger of the two, was born with a brain hemorrhage that caused hydrocephalus, or swelling on his brain, and has led to him having sensory issues. He has been coming to Schreiber since early 2017 for therapy and to attend Schreiber’s S.T.A.R.S. Preschool. He receives occupational therapy to help him work through his sensory issues and to learn how to calm down when he’s feeling overwhelmed.
“He came to Schreiber a quiet, anxious little boy who did not want to go to school or really even leave my side,” says his mom Andrea. “He is now upset when he doesn’t have Schreiber preschool that day. We are so thankful for the amazing staff that have invested in him and are continually helping him reach his full potential.”
Giuliana is 5 and was born with Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome. She is delayed physically and in her speech, so she receives physical and speech-language therapy. She’s attends kindergarten at Providence Elementary School, loves mac and cheese, playing with Barbies and dancing. Just like a lot of other 5-year-olds.
What she has been able to do at Schreiber is begin the work of catching up.
“Giuliana has made leaps and bounds during her time at Schreiber,” Andrea says. “From being able to communicate her wants and needs to the ability to run and jump and play with her friends – she has become much more independent. The therapists here are exceptional. They are giving her the tools to be successful for years to come.”
Merv and Carolyn King adopted their 12-year-old son Roberto from Guatemala when he was a baby. They were told he had some physical delays because he’d been in a crib so much. It turned out he had cerebral palsy. The Kings started receiving services, first through the Intermediate Unit when he was 3 and then here at the center.
By age 5, he was still not able to walk.
Since then, he has learned to sit, stand with support and walk with crutches. He’s even working on walking with just one crutch. It’s taken a lot of hard work, and sometimes the difficulty of the work can be a struggle to deal with, even for a funny, sociable kid like Roberto.
“He gets pushed to try new things,” Carolyn says. “Everybody is friendly and understanding when your child (fights against the therapy), and they cheer him back up.”
Connery Pham plays soccer, likes watching “Max and Ruby” on TV and wants to be a day care teacher when she grows up. She’s a imaginative, determined kid who doesn’t let the fact that she was born with Down Syndrome slow her down.
She comes to Schreiber for occupational and speech-language therapy, and she has made remarkable progress in her time here.
“The level of support and care at Schreiber is so very personal to our family,” says her mom Kara. “The staff is amazing, ready and eager to help her progress. There is always an element of fun with every session, which makes therapy fun.”
Kara gives credit to the whole staff, from Gerri McCritty at the front desk to the therapists in Speech and OT.
“She has improved in her speech and language ability,” Kara says. “You often can’t get a word in edgewise. She keeps trying even when she is not understood. Connery’s growth is obvious.”
About the Gala: Schreiber’s 35th Annual Gala, presented by Listrak, will be Saturday, March 24, at the Lancaster Country Club. The night will feature silent and live auctions and music by the Mama Tried Band.