16 Gifted Families of 2020
The children and families that SGF benefits each have their own unique journey, but I can tell you from experience that none of them are easy and that they face challenges each and every day. It has been a true honor to come alongside these families and do what we can to love on them, support them, and meet needs for them… hopefully making their lives a little easier, a little brighter, and letting them know that they have a community that truly cares about them and their child.
To see SGF come to be and to have the opportunity to gift 16 families in our first year has honestly been one of the greatest joys of my life. 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, but it is also the founding year for SGF and for that I will always be grateful.
–Bree Lanham, Co-Founder
Read the Gregory family story by clicking the title and photo.
Gifting: This was a day we could never forget. The FIRST recipients of Specially Gifted Foundation! #SGFkid Jonas was diagnosed with severe encephalopathy. He and his family love to ride bikes together. They were gifted two bikes and a Wike Stroller/Jogger to attach to the bikes so they could all bike together!
We are so grateful to have met this special family! We will cherish our first gifting foreve
Read the Webb Family story above by clicking the title or photo.
Gifting: Paislee has Cerebral Palsy. She also has a smile that could light up the world! We were blessed to meet her and her sweet family that we are excited to have developed a friendship with! We love these words from Carrie, Paislee’s mom describing Paislee’s impact. “Paislee has truly changed our world, one that I could have never even begun to understand before her. She has taught us about love, life and enjoying the simple things.”
She and her family were gifted a Special Tomato Jogger/Sitter and a $500 gift card that went towards a home security system.
Read Noah Malautea’s story by clicking the title or photo above.
Gifting: Meeting Noah and his family brought us so much joy! Noah is 3 years old and has a baby brother named Eli who is 1. Noah and his family were gifted an iPad Mini, a Breathe-zy Pillow, and a monetary contribution towards past medical expenses.
Read Hunter’s story by clicking the title or photo above.
Gifting: Medieval Times tickets for the entire family and Rifton HTS
When the bath chair for the Klepinger family ended up being the wrong size, and we could not return. We were thrilled to learn that Kendall Kernion, the why behind SGF and sister of Co-Founder Bree Kernion Lanham, was actually in need of such equipment. Before this chair, Kendall’s parents were having to physically lift her into the tub. This shower chair allowed Kendall to be more independent and put less stress on her parents’ backs. Win, win!
Gifting: Toilet/Shower Chair
Read The Rosson Family story above by clicking on the title or photo.
Gifting: We gifted Jaxon items for his family’s game room including a vintage arcade game, a multi-game table, an iPad, gaming chair, therapy swing, and more.
When we pulled up, Jaxon and his siblings greeted us outside eager to help us unload the truck! They were so welcoming and eager to show us their home and pets. They told us it “feels like Christmas!”. Jaxon was our first verbal child that we gifted and he expressed over and over again how thankful he was. Likewise, we are so so thankful to have met Jaxon, and we were so happy to gift the entire family!
The Wilson Family
We became the Wilson family in May 2014. Waylon was born in June of 2015. I have always wanted to be a mom. I wanted to know what it felt like to have someone to love me as much as I did them and to love me no matter what. Little did I know GOD was going to bless me with the perfect child to teach me the true meaning of unconditional love. I noticed after a year that he did not react to things like most children his age did. After the doctor suggested we test Waylon for Autism around age 2, I knew in my heart what the results were going to be, but I prayed that I would be wrong. We got the Autism diagnosis August 2017. My heart broke. Waylon not only has autism he is also non-verbal and has a lot of sensory issues. He chews almost everything. He is the typical picky eater that comes along with autism. I didn’t know much of anything about Autism and I was so scared that Waylon would never be able to live in this world without a caretaker. Fast forward three years and I still have the same fear BUT, I would NOT change absolutely anything about him. (Well maybe his stubbornness..ha) In just 5 years Waylon has taught me so much about life. Things like; not to judge a book by its cover, to love unconditionally, that no matter the progress big or small, it’s still progress, and last, we are all different and that’s ok. Waylon has two older half-brothers Joshua (17) and Landon (14) who are absolutely wonderful with him. We try to explain things to them and help them understand the world of Autism as we are learning. Waylon absolutely adores his brothers and stays attached at the hip when they are with us. Waylon loves being outside. He loves to be free to run in the open yard. He loves swings and the trampoline. One of his favorite things to do when he stays with his grandmother is to set on her porch in her swing and just stare at the trees and the sky. We have had our ups and downs with autism and life threating health scares because of it. Waylon has showed us that life can throw you a curve ball. All you do is take a breath and swing for the stars. Amazing things will happen, you just got to trust GOD.
Gifting: Waylon was gifted a therapy swing like one he has at therapy. He is now able to swing at home! He was also gifted a play set! Thanks to Waylon and his family’s patience and eagerness to jump in, as well as a few other volunteers, we were able to knock assembly out in 2 days!
Ashla, Waylon’s mom, is doing what she can in her community for children with disabilities, as well! She knows how inaccessible resources can be by personal experience and has stepped up to help in her local school system! We are so glad to know people who stand up to make change and fight for these children. We know she is making a big impact!
Read Lukas’s story by clicking the title or photo above.
Gifting: Lukas was gifted a swingset, spider swing, power wheels, and tablet. Lukas’s mom shared these powerful words with us and we want to share them with you… “Lukas understands every aspect of his disability. From Spina Bifida, to hydrocephalus or the sensory processing disorder, he has to show himself that he can do the same things other kids his age are doing – just in a different way. I pray he never loses his sense of self and ability, and that his siblings always show compassion to others that are different than them. For the Killham family, we like to say our house is ‘Spina Bifida Strong’.
The Ruff Family
Porter McClain Ruff was born on July 10, 2010. He was born with hypoxic
ischemic encephalopathy causing his diagnosis of cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and
global developmental delay. Although his life may come with many challenges, we
do our best to create a fun, healthy and enjoyable environment for him. Porter is an
only child and spends most of his time at home with mom, dad and his two dogs.
He enjoys going to school and attending all social outings. A gift that would be
beneficial for Porter would be the Adaptive Star Axiom Endeavour 3 Special
Needs Stroller. It is designed for use as in indoor or outdoor mobility system. It
easily glides through grass, gravel, over curbs, and sand. It becomes difficult to
constantly load his standard wheelchair when we want to go on adventures or even
walks. This would be a fantastic addition to Porter’s life as he may enjoy more
time outdoors being a 10-year-old boy!
Gifting: We gifted Porter a Special Tomato Axion Endeavor Special Needs Stroller. This stroller makes it easier for his parents to move Porter around without a heavy wheelchair.
The Waid Family
Read more about Tyson Waid’s journey here on Facebook.
It is with a heavy heart that we share that sweet Tyson gained his angel wings on the morning of Christmas Eve. He fought a long fight against DIPG all the while bringing joy to so many people. He made such an impact on those in the DIPG community, as well as us here at SGF. We feel so blessed to have met Tyson and his family. Maggie, Colt, and Averie will always be friends of SGF! Please dedicate your thoughts and prayers to the Waid family as they navigate during this difficult time.
Gifting: We received an application from Tyson’s grandmother saying how she knew it was impossible, but wanted to see if we could get Garth Brooks to meet Tyson because he is his biggest fan! Our co-founders sent an open message to Garth via video on social media asking to get in touch with him. In less than a week, the video had over 32k views and we were ultimately able to reach Garth’s team! Tyson was able to FaceTime with Garth and there are plans for the two to hopefully meet in person once the pandemic slows and Garth is able to hold concerts.
We also wanted to gift Tyson an item that would benefit him and his family. They requested a Special Tomato Sitter with a mobile base and an activity tray.
Here is what Maggie, Tyson’s mom, had to say:
“We would love to give a huge shout out to the Specially Gifted Foundation for getting Tyson his new chair and tray for us to use at home. It has been a huge struggle for us over the past month to carry him everywhere and be by his side constantly. This has given him some of his independence back and he loves it. Foundations such as this are such a blessing. If we had to go through our insurance, this would have taken us at least 3 months to get in. They ordered these for Tyson and were delivered to us in Charlotte in less than 2 weeks. Thank you ladies so much.”
The Major Family
McKinley was prenatally diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect. It was not until she was born on February 19, 2018 that we learned the specifics are her defects. McKinley has 5 CHDs: Double Inlet Left Ventricle, Double Outlet Left Ventricle, Transposition of Great Arteries, Atrial Septum Defect, and Pulmonary Stenosis. When McKinley was about a week old we also learned that she has a deletion on Chromosome 16q. McKinley spent many weeks in the hospital as a newborn, underwent a heart procedure called an atrial septostomy, and also suffered a stroke at 3 weeks old. McKinley came home with a feeding tube and the goal of getting bigger and stronger for her open heart surgery. She spent several months in heart failure and in September of 2018 McKinley had the Glenn open heart surgery. McKinley’s heart had a very difficult time recovering, but after about a month McKinley was released with oxygen and a feeding tube to come home to continue her recovery. Since then, McKinley has made so much progress! She started eating/drinking and no longer requires the feeding tube. She was also able to come off of oxygen. While we wait for McKinley’s next open heart surgery within the next couple of years, we focus on helping McKinley catch up on milestones. McKinley has hypotonia – low muscle tone. This has made it challenging for her to walk, run, jump, and climb. With the help of a great physical therapist and leg braces, McKinley started walking.
Gifting: Thanks again to Kevin with Top Dog Golf Carts out of Cumming, GA for pouring so much into this project and making it everything the family needed! We were thrilled to have him gift this family with us!
The Graham Family
Mikayla was referred to us by her mother’s best friend, Autumn Royer. Autumn wrote this, “Mikayla has been through it all. At age 3 she had metal plates put in both hips to try and gain her walking ability among other reasons. Recently, Mikayla had to have these plates removed due to the left plate braking leaving her with a fractured leg.”
Gifting: Her mother started a Facebook campaign to raise funds for a handicap accessible van to make it easier for transporting Mikayla places. We paid the remainder of the fundraiser, donating $1k towards a handicap accessible van.
The Vasquez Family
We are the Vasquez Family, Matthew, Shana, Lila, Hazeleah, and Aimree. We are a retired military family with 14 moves under our belt and have planted roots finally in Georgia. Every family has a mantra, ours is “Embrace your Differences; you need to find strength in them.” Aimree was born October 1, 2010 in Kalamazoo MI. We knew she had a limb difference before her birth. But we soon found out there was more to come. Aimree was deemed, failed to thrive because she was not able to gain weight because every time she would try to eat she would turn blue. That led to her first surgery, choanal atresia. They had to remove bone that was blocking her airway. At the same time, she was diagnosed with Pulmonary stenosis. That led us to a geneticist, revealing Aimreee had a genetic condition. She has a genetic translocation between chromosomes 7 and 9 as well as partial trisomy of chromosome 7. That left us with more questions and not real answers. So a new journey began; enjoy the now, and find the joy. Aimree has been diagnosed with multiple other conditions to include, right upper partial hemimelia, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, simple partial seizure with autonomic dysfunction, tonic-clonic seizures, autism, ADHD, and severe mental impairment. Aimree does OT, PT Speech and ABA multiple times a week along with an infusion every other week to keep her moving. Aimree has a way of finding the joy every day. Her laugh is infectious and she can light up a room. She can also bring the crazy and you just never know what you are going to get.
Aimree’s two sisters, Lila (15) and Hazeleah (11) are amazing. They both care and look out for their younger sister. Lila is a very talented artist. Lila has a life-threatening peanut allergy that has shaped who she is today. She has endured bullying and mistreatment because of people’s ignorance and unkindness. She has weathered the storm and has come out stronger because of it. She is winning the battle over depression and anxiety every day. Her strength and willingness to fight is inspiring.
Hazeleah is a force to be reckoned with. She was born 30 and is a judge in the making. She protects and defends her sisters with such passion it is breathtaking. She is an advocate at heart. Her determination for justice and equality is remarkable. I see her in her jugudal robe banging her gavel saying, “Order in the courtroom!”
Being a family with a special needs child has its challenges. The feeling that your family is always divided is heartbreaking as a mom. I try so hard to have balance and know it’s the key but it can be overwhelming at times. I focus on trying to make sure everyone gets what they need. Aimree demands much of our time and energy. Because of medical appointments and sometimes dictating the day because of how she is feeling that day. I know her sisters are better people because of Aimree. They see people in a different way. Not focusing on what is different about someone. But finding the similarity. As a family we try to make the best of our time together which we learned from being a military family for years. Embrace the good and find the joy and make your day count.
Gifting: Custom Tandem bicycle
The Rivera Family
Waiting for family story.
Gifting: They were gifted a monetary contribution towards a wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Braylen has been under Give a Gift for quite some time, and as the year wrapped up our “Gifting Team” decided to gift this sweet family. We list families under Give a Gift so if donors want to specifically gift a family of their choice they can do so.
We have 7 kids at home. Ages 1 to 9. We have already adopted 2 of them. (Kylie and Jimmy). We are in the process of adopting the other 5. The youngest, Turtle, is the sibling to the 2 we already adopted, we got her at birth. The other 4, Haven, Malachi, Mason, and Braylen, are a sibling group of their own. We also have 5 grown kids. JJ, Holly, Mack, Cody, and Lily. And 9 grandkids. Madison, Jessie Paul, Colby, Kendyl, Daniel, Paisley, Maddux, Ethan, and Easton.
We started our foster care journey after our grown kids were out of the nest. We had no intentions of adopting. We simply wanted to make the foster care experience less traumatic for kids. Our goal was to make their time away from their parents, less like their personal prison sentence, and more like a vacation or summer camp. Yes they would still miss their parents but we tried to pack as much fun and new experiences into it as possible. They need to be kids while the adults deal with whatever crisis led them to foster care. Our plan was to make sure that every child left our home knowing how to ride a bike and knowing about Jesus’ love for us all. Later in life they would look back at their time spent with us and not remember it as a bad season for their family, but a time when they were safe and happy. For some kids that has happened. We have had several of our former fosters return to visit. To let us know that they had graduated highschool, enrolled in college, or for us to meet their girlfriend. We have had 107 kids come through our home from Dfacs. Either as a placement or respite care. Each one a blessing and each one a learning experience for us. Yet we are still not experts on children. Every child has it’s own unique needs. However I can say, it’s been my experience, that all kids, no matter what age, race, background, rich or poor, religion,… they all want the same 3 things. To be safe, valued, and a cell phone. – Lorita, Mother.
Read more here.
Gifting: $5k towards a home pool for aqua therapy and family play benefits.
The Patel Family
Waiting for photos and story.
Gifting: 5k towards Music Therapy that is not covered by insurance.
Being a part of the SGF team and getting to witness a few of these giftings was the highlight of 2020 for me! Coming from a family with a member who has disabilities, I have an idea of the hardships that can come with it. I saw the joy and relief on these families’ faces! That joy fuels our mission at SGF to make their lives easier, and I feel privileged to be involved with something so big. Can’t wait to see what 2021 brings and to gift more families!
–Lindsey, Multi-Media Communications
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