Valerie “Bennie” Hickman is a very special girl. Prior to the onset of Acute Flaccid Myelitis last year, she was a typically developing 5-year-old. Bennie is a wonderful big sister to our 4-year-old, Porter. She is a gifted singer, has a beautiful imagination, and has learned to write and draw with her left hand following her diagnosis. AFM is a devastating diagnosis as it is rare, and the impact varies drastically from patient to patient. Thankfully, Bennie’s symptoms were not as severe as we expected and while she has potentially permanent paralysis in her right arm, profound weakness in part of her neck, and partial paralysis of her diaphragm, she is still able to live a full and happy life. With her diagnosis comes many challenges but we have watched her overcome them one by one. When she first was diagnosed, she lost the ability to hold her head up, sit up on her own, and walk. With hard work and therapies, she has regained the ability to do all of those. Bennie had a nerve transfer surgery in May to attempt to regain function in her right arm. In the meantime, she is working to strengthen her neck and core! The best thing for her recovery and prognosis is lots of therapy and activity. We are hoping to get her an outdoor playset and an indoor rock wall so that she can continue to get stronger in a way that feels like play time!
Gift: Project Playroom rock wall panels + holds
Location: Gwinnett County
Given: December 2022