With the holiday season upon us, every moment spent with family and friends is savored. Our sense of gratitude for the simple things in life is heightened, different, during this time of year than any other. But for Cheryl Donovan, the holidays are a blatant reminder that each festive celebration with her son Liam may be her last.
When Liam was two months old, he was diagnosed with the extremely rare Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome and told that he may not make it to his first birthday.
Liam is now 3 years old, but he has had to fight for every day.
Wolf-Hirschhorn compromises Liam’s growth, causes global developmental delays, and presents unique facial features. Liam is non-verbal and doctors aren’t sure if he’ll ever speak. He is also epileptic, has weakened immune system, and is a poor eater so he is prone to sickness and very small for his age.
Liam’s parents spent the entire first year of his life fearful that their son might not wake up the next morning. For baby Liam, it was a lonely time. He was fighting against one of the rarest known syndromes and completely alone in the world. And then he received the best gift anyone could ask for: a best friend.
Liam’s little sister Emma was born when Liam was one year old – the birthday that doctors predicted would be his first, and last. Immediately, the two siblings forged a powerful bond. So powerful, in fact, that Liam began to gain strength. He faced his therapy appointments with renewed determination. His loving family continued to support him, and Liam began to thrive.
Liam and Emma both fall on the Autism Spectrum. Emma, 2, also experiences Sensory Processing Disorder and Mixed Language Disorder. Having two children with disabilities does not come without its challenges, but mom Cheryl and dad Gary wouldn’t trade it for the world.
They are rich in what’s important: they have a full and happy home. But with two special-needs children that demand full-time attention, Cheryl had to quit working and stay home. To make ends meet, the family has had to get by without a car. Currently, they rely on Cheryl’s mom to take the children to their appointments because they simply cannot afford to buy a car.
“If we had transportation,” Cheryl began, “a whole new world would open up for us and so many more opportunities for Liam would be possible.”