Brandon working with horses as volunteer
We’re thrilled to announce that Jacob’s Fund has begun supporting three new children at McKenna Farms. This is an outstanding opportunity and challenge for our small organization. We’d like you to meet each one—Brandon, Cameron and Landon—to better understand why your help is so critical in their young lives.
Brandon, 17, found his forever family just two years ago. Dan and Tracey had started fostering children and were asked to take Brandon, then 15, for a single weekend. This polite and gentle boy impressed the family, including the couple’s two biological sons, who later signed up to be Brandon’s Secret Santa. The thank-you note they received was gracious, but ended with Brandon’s heart-breaking wish: “what I really want is a family.”
Within a few weeks, Brandon became eligible for adoption and their younger son said, “Well, let’s go get him.” The family proceeded with the adoption to make what they already felt legal and binding by law: Brandon would become their third son.
Early in life, Brandon had been diagnosed with speech problems following which he received help with speech at school. Although the help faded away, Brandon’s needs didn’t.
Once adopted, his new family began searching for help for him. Thankfully, the Paulding County Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) suggested McKenna Farms. Brandon began speech therapy in the summer of 2011, working in one of the therapy rooms at McKenna Farms’ Civil-War era farmhouse.
Early in the summer of 2012, farm management asked Brandon if he’d like to volunteer on the farm. Working in the barn with the horses was a pivotal turning point for this young man. Now his speech therapist comes to the barn for therapy sessions where Brandon is happiest and does his best. He has been so successful as a volunteer that other children ask for him to be the helper during their therapy sessions.
Brandon is proud of his progress as well as his volunteerism and rightfully so. He has learned that he can contribute something valuable to the farm and other patients. He helps others without asking anything in return and relishes in his new-found confidence.
With your help, Brandon will begin therapeutic riding sessions immediately. Brandon is glad to help others at the farm. Now Jacob’s Fund can let him know that others want to help him, too.
Cameron and Landon, age three, are identical twins. When they were 18 months old, their mom, Melissa, noticed that Landon began to exhibit some unusual behavior. Following checkups, enduring multiple lengthy waiting lists for appointments (up to six months!), denials from their insurance company, waiting another agonizing six months for an appointment—all the while saving money to pay for the consultation—Landon was finally able to see a specialist. Two days before Christmas, the family received the diagnosis: Landon was autistic. A few months later, Cameron was diagnosed with the same disorder.
The following summer, the family attended a barbecue. While speaking to a friend, Melissa heard about McKenna Farms and proceeded to contact the farm director in search of therapy solutions for her sons. Thankfully, McKenna Farms is able to provide the occupational and speech services her young sons need.
Before beginning therapy, Landon had a vocabulary of five words. After only five months of work with McKenna Farms’ therapists, he now proudly owns over 100 words! The boys have now progressed from the therapy rooms to hippotherapy on the backs of the farm’s gentle horses. Cameron loves his sessions on Sassy, a beautiful quarter horse, and, as of this report, Landon is looking forward to his second session.
The twins are making great strides. They can better communicate with their family and will be more prepared to tackle pre-school in the coming months. Doctors and therapists concur that both boys need to spend a total of 40 hours a week with therapy or involvement with other children in a normal setting so being prepared for pre-school is a must for these little guys.
Melissa is thrilled that the boys are achieving their short-term goals with the help of the specialists at McKenna Farms and the financial support of Jacob’s Fund. Her long-term goal is for each boy to gain the necessary life skills to live independently as an adult. In order to do so, the boys require therapy three times a week. While the family’s health insurance covers 80 per cent of the cost of occupational therapy, it does not cover speech therapy, as autism is not covered at all on their policy. The cost of these sessions for a single-wage-earner home is staggering. While McKenna Farms is a non-profit facility, the cost for maintaining regular, consistent therapy is significant.
We have an outstanding opportunity to help these children. Jacob’s Fund and The Red Thread Promise are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their lives. With the help of Global Giving donors we will be able to meet their needs. We thank you for your contribution to change lives like these.
Cameeron with Sassy