Meet Our Special-Needs Parent of the Day (2017 list)

August 1st: Chris and Emily Perrin
nominated by: Jason Crandall, Danielle Perrin, Sara Gorton, Jaime Rios, and Bethany Ehret

Emily and her husband Chris are parents of 3 children. One of their children Hayes has significant special needs. He had an e coli bleed on the brain as an infant. Emily is a loving caregiver to Hayes and her other two children as well. She is an advocate for him to get the care he needs. Their everyday walk is an inspiration. – Jason

August 2nd: Tianna Burtnett
nominated by: Justin, Cherish, and Samantha Connor

Tianna is the devoted mother to a child with Angelman Syndrome. She is the best mother, through all her struggles even at the young age she is, she has pushed through to do everything possible for her son. She never gets to do anything for herself, yet she doesn’t even care or notice, though even through the physical therapy, countless doctors appointments, emergency room visits, meds and feedings she never manages to have time for herself. She is truly amazing and goes above and beyond for her son. – Cherish

August 3rd: Shelley Neustupa
nominated by: Pam, Sandra, and Erin

Shelley dove head first into unknown waters when her son, Cody, was under two years old. She has studied, reviewed, read, talked to professionals, other autistic parents, started a blog, worked insurance companies, worked at her job, maintained her relationship with her older son, husband, family and friends. All to say, the word autistic energized her like no other and she hasn’t stopped in the three years since. Cody was ten years coming to this family – looking back there was a reason. With a brother now 15 years old and parents that have been married for 19 years, Cody is surrounded by love and a maturity many autistic children don’t enjoy.

August 4th: Jessie Ward
nominated by: Linda

Jessie is my daughter and I nominating her because she is my grandson’s advocate and will fight to her dying day for him. He was given a 1% survival and he is almost 5 years old with FT13. All the doctors are amazed at the level of care and love he has been given. He has a great team of 24-hour nurses. Jessie makes sure he gets to see and do everything possible. She wants him to live life to the fullest. There is no stopping her.

August 5th: Molly Salmond
nominated by: Sarah and Diane

My daughter, Molly overcame obstacles before she even became pregnant. She lived up to her dubbed maiden name/title, “The unsinkable Molly Brown”. Baby Bennett is almost 2 yrs old, and because of Molly’s “unsinkable” ways, he has come very far in learning things the hard way, not instinctually or by the average learn and progress, but by constant efforts of her parents exercising, encouraging, teaching, and studying of ways to help their previous child. I’m so very proud of my unsinkable Molly Mae! I feel she deserves to be recognized as an awesome special needs parent! -Diane

August 6th: Dean Hartop
nominated by: Sharon

Our son, Shane, was born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2. My husband gave up everything to become Shane’s main caregiver and his boccia coach, which Shane excelled at. Unfortunately on May13th, Shane passed away after a short illness at age 25 which devastated us as a family. Shane always said his dad was his hero, but truth be known, Shane was our hero. He was a true fighter till his last breath. I would like to have the opportunity to say thank you to my husband for everything he gave up to support our son’s hopes and dreams, and for always being there when Shane needed him to guide him and support throughout his short but full life.

August 7th: Olivia Howard
nominated by: Zoranda and Anonymous

Olivia has two children who suffer from a rare genetic disease. She tirelessly drives them to doctors appointments, fights for their educational rights, and searches out ways to give them as much of a normal life as possible while taking care of two non-special-needs siblings. She sacrifices things like a social life, career, and sometimes a good night’s sleep for the children! She is a true example of a mother’s love! – Zoranda

August 8th: Jennifer Bowman
nominated by: Lisa, Danielle, and Cheryl

My nephew, Dylan, is 5 years old, and is non-verbal with a rare form of epilepsy. He has had multiple seizures daily since he was a baby. Jennifer quietly, yet confidently, handles his seizures until they pass and he is up and running again. She spends countless nights by his side in the hospital for all his tests. Jenn does all this and more while working full-time and taking care of Dylan’s 8 year old brother and running a house. She’s a lioness of determination, strength & courage when it comes to my nephew. She deserves an award more than anyone I know. – Danielle

August 9th: Andrew Briseno
nominated by: Kelly

Andrew is the stepfather to my daughter. When he came into our lives, he became Leni’s biggest champion. Despite her being nonverbal, he has given her a loud voice to be heard! He has been the biggest help in her obtaining some sign language skills, and has taught her to embrace her disabilities as something to be proud of and a unique part of who she is. Andrew constantly sacrifices himself for our Leni, without complaint. He is an amazing man and I could not begin to ask for a better partner I need not only parenting, but special needs parenting!

August 10th: Lisa Huckleberry
nominated by: Kristen

Lisa Huckleberry is my good friend and an amazing mom to her daughter, Lily, who has Down Syndrome. Lisa is a single mom who also works full time to provide a good life for her daughter. Lily is smart and busy and full of sass, and Lisa has done a great job of raising her all by herself. Lisa makes sure Lily has lots of opportunities to have fun and interact with other kids by enrolling her in dance and baseball. Despite never getting a break from being a mom, Lisa has a great attitude, and a big heart. She enjoys helping other special needs families find support and resources and to learn how to navigate the system and get the services they need. I think Lisa could literally talk to anyone and make them a friend. She is a very special person and provides a lot of support for me.

August 11th: Valerie and Dirk Reum
nominated by: Teresa

Valerie and Dirk Reum are the sweetest couple with their four children, the youngest of whom was adopted from overseas and has special needs.  I became acquainted with Valerie through the Hand in Hand Ministry. She works part-time as an assistant in this ministry, and also finds time to serve as a volunteer with the respite activities for both younger children and adults with special needs each month, Night to Shine, and other activities this busy mom participates in. She is a tireless advocate for sharing the boundless love of God with these special children as well as her own. She has been a real blessing to the church ministry and to me.

August 12th: Janice Jackson
nominated by: Marlene

Janice is a stay at home home-school mom of three children. One of those three is a special-needs daughter, Sadie, with a Chromosome 6p deletion. She was diagnosed before she was born and medically was given very little time to live, if she lived at all. Today she is nearly 11 years old and although she is totally dependent, she brings so much joy to our lives. Her mama faithfully cares for her daily, doesn’t complain, and sacrifices unselfishly on a daily bases. Janice celebrates her birthday in August and I believe it would be wonderful for y’all to celebrate her and her family.

August 13th: Kate Cardamon
nominated by: Richard

She is a dedicated mom who loves her son unconditionally and faithfully, bringing him to Bible study and other fellowship opportunities at our church. She is a servant of God who is thirsty for the word and sharing it with her 30 year old son.

August 14th: Judy Loera
nominated by: Melissa, Korina, and Maritza

She is amazing mother to Tony our little angel on earth. She goes above and beyond to provide the best care and greatest love to him and meeting all his special needs. I’m just so amazed with her big love, patience and consistency when it comes to her little one. To me she truly rocks and deserves to be not only nominated but recognized for being that amazing mom. ❤️ – Maritza

August 15th: Andrea O’Neill
nominated by: Rachel and Carol

Andrea is amazing! Always smiling, always aiming high & doing her best. She is mum of a gorgeous girl with SMA. It makes me realize how much more special some parents have to be, how much special equipment is needed, and how little rest they get, yet still smile. – Rachel

August 16th: Dorrie Carter
nominated by: Judy

Dorrie has lovingly and tirelessly worked endless hours to find ways to make her son Eric’s life better for him living with NKH (non-ketotic hyperglycinemia). She has researched, taken countless classes/workshops, advocated for Eric with his education, medical care, and for awareness of disabilities for others with government at multiple levels. Her tenacity is awe inspiring!! She is a wonderful mom!!

August 17th: Steve and Shelley Gay
nominated by: Margie

Steve and Shelley work very hard to provide services for their teenage son on the autism spectrum. They make sure he is getting the support he needs while growing and learning toward being as independent as possible. The family is working with him for transition services as he gets closer to 16. As they balance their family needs, they also operate two different special need family Facebook support groups. They go out of their way to help families find resources and services. Many families have found help from Steve and Shelley to get diapers and other medical equipment they didn’t know where to turn.

August 18th: Cherri Matthews
nominated by: Tara

My sister and her husband have two children. She has a 13-year old who battles with Bipolar disorder, psychosis, ADHD, and Tourette’s syndrome. She also has a 9-year old who struggles with mitochondria disease, seizures, tics, hypertension, and possibly bipolar disorder as well. On top of the battle she has with the boys, her husband had a freak work accident earlier this year, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, unable to drive, nor can he participate in normal family activities. I don’t know any other family like theirs. They’re motto is “NEVER GIVE UP” and the fight they have is unbelievable.

August 19th: Darcie Komorek
nominated by: Cheryl

Darcie is a single mom of a non-verbal 4yr old boy with special needs who has had 12 surgeries in his short little life. Her days are filled with taking care of her son, taking him to multiple weekly therapy sessions and many doctor visits… and she has a job too! No matter how tired she is, she always has the patience needed to be the best mom her little guy could ever have!

August 20th: Tim and Tammi VanNest and daughter Nikki
nominated by: Hope Anne

Tim and Tammi have willingly taken three children with special needs into their home, and faithfully cared for them for years in spite of a high level of special needs. Their biological daughter, Nikki, faithfully helps them in this task. They do it with humor, love, and endless patience in the face of huge challenges. I am so thankful to know them as they inspire me on a regular basis! They are the salt of the earth, always trying to do what they can for others even though their time and resources are limited due to their children’s needs. I would love to see them blessed because they truly deserve it!!