Joe's Because I Can Message Told By: His Mother, Kristi
I had a typical pregnancy with Joe and had no reason to be concerned. I had Joe's big sister, Eleanor, three years prior and there were no issues. Joe was one week over-due. When I went into labor his heart rate was plummeting. During delivery, the team noticed there was a "true knot" in Joe's cord. He spent 10 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, where he underwent multiple tests. But it wasn’t until Joe missed milestones during his first year that his care team began to officially suspect cerebral palsy—a condition in which brain damage causes abnormal muscle tone and problems with coordination and balance.
Over the years, Joe has received great care from his pediatrician, neurologist, gastroenterologist and all of his various providers at Gillette. He receives PT, OT, speech, physiatrist, orthopedics and ADT Equipment. Through everyone's help, including the great staff at Richfield Public Schools, Joe is being a typical teenager. He was on the student council last year in 7th grade and danced in his chair at the school talent show. Joe has been riding a horse since he was 2 years old through We Can Ride. Through a school ski trip, Joe found a wonderful sport of adaptive downhill skiing. He has been participating in this for two years and loves going fast. Once he started 7th grade, he could start to participate in school adaptive team sports. He loves riding the bus to away games for adaptive floor hockey with his teammates and even lettered last year!
Joe is able to communicate with others through his voice and also with the aid of his Ipad app called Proloquo2go. This great app helps others understand Joe if they are not used to his talking. Joe has many pieces of adaptive equipment that aid in his daily living--manual wheelchair, power standing wheelchair, stander, gait trainer, shower chair, AFO braces for his legs/feet and of course the Ipad. Joe was so excited to get his new power chair this Summer--it gives him the ability to stand and drive around. We also have two different adaptive bikes for Joe so he can ride like a typical teenager. This past Summer, he was at Gillette and had a baclofen pump put in. This will help with his spasticity issues.
Joe has a great big sister, Eleanor, who is 16. Often siblings have it hard due to the special needs child needing more attention, time, etc. Eleanor and Joe have a unique, but special relationship. I love it when people comment--she treats him just like a typical boy. Joe is Eleanor's biggest fan!
Everyone that comes in to contact with Joe remarks on his great smile and wonderful attitude. I am always amazed at Joe always being positive and happy. He is a great kid and so happy that he is so happy. Joe lives at home with Dad, Mike, his big sister, Eleanor, and myself. He just started 8th grade at RMS in Richfield.
We have a philosophy of independence and inclusion that is part of our household. Joe chose We Can Ride as his charity to benefit from online sales during his featured story.
Joe's 2018 Update: Joe is busy with his Freshman year at Richfield High School. Winter brings adaptive floor hockey with the South Suburban Flyers and adaptive downhill skiing with Courage Kenny.
Joe with his sister, Eleanor, Target Lodge during the Super Bowl