UCP Telethon this weekend!

This weekend is the 2014 UCP Telethon for the East Central Alabama Cerebral Palsy Center. If you're friends with my on facebook, I'm afraid I have (and will continue to) blasted your newsfeed with updates about the Telethon and links to pictures and videos. There are several reasons for this. We love UCP, we believe in their mission and services, and Israel is one of the poster children this year!!

Being the "poster child" has provided some unique opportunities. Israel is on billboards (six!), posters, brochures, and we will be on TV this weekend. The telethon is Saturday August 2 from 6pm-10pm, and Sunday August 3 from noon - 6pm. You can watch it on Cable One Channel 2 and WEAC, or stream live on www.ecaucp.org (anyone can log on!) - Israel's live interviews will be around 6:45pm Saturday and 2:20 pm Sunday afternoon - so please check it out!

I've also had two opportunities to speak about UCP to various organizations. It has been an honor to represent UCP families at these events. I had a hard time limiting my speech to the allotted 10 minutes because I could sing their praises all day long.

Here's my speech from one of the events:

Our relationship with UCP started shortly after we brought our son home from Ethiopia. We adopted Israel at 7 months, and he had spent his whole life up to that point at an orphanage. We didn’t have a family history, but knew that the months of orphanage care had affected his development. We were quickly connected with UCP, and I was very nervous as a first time mom seeking services. Since Israel was our first child, we really didn’t have expectations on what a typically developing child would do. The UCP staff has been a continued support for us. Bonnie and the nurse came out to our home to evaluate Israel, and we decided that he could benefit from physical therapy. From the beginning, I was very impressed with the professionalism of the entire UCP staff, and I was also thankful that they were women who offered compassion and care for our family. They would offer stories about the times that their children needed extra help, and always encouraged us as parents.

 Israel started receiving services at 9 months old, and he is now 2.5. He is currently receiving speech, physical, and occupational therapy, and he is enrolled in the 2 days of daycare through Children’s Choice. We loved the Children’s Choice daycare so much that we enrolled our biological, developmentally healthy daughter in the program as well!

If there was ever a resource that we needed, UCP would help us borrow it or connect with other agencies to get it. Susan and Margaret have helped us advocate for resources Israel needed, such as AFO braces. Through UCP we have at some point borrowed a stander, gait trainer, crawling toy, muscle stimulator, and walker. We have been able to utilize the UCP respite program, which is very helpful for families who need a break.

We have a wonderful relationship with all of Israel’s therapists and his service coordinator. I truly believe they care about Israel and want to see him succeed. They are patient with him and work hard to make sure that we know how to do the exercises that will help him reach our goals. They have offered services in our home and at daycare- they are flexible to meet during times that work best for Israel. I am already mourning the day that Israel will have to graduate from the Early Intervention program because these therapists have become my friends.

It is hard to imagine where we would be without UCP. This team is full of teachers, cheerleaders, advocates, and brokers. UCP has made an impact on our entire family. When Israel started the program, he couldn’t roll over or sit up, and didn’t say any words or self-feed. Today, Israel can drink out of an open cup, finger feed, sit up, take steps with a walker, and say about 10 words. Each of these milestones has been hard earned, and we credit the staff at UCP for helping our son reach these goals. Israel is just one boy that UCP has helped, and UCP has helped to change our lives. Thanks for your support.

PS- Here's the post I wrote about UCP last year. Everything is still true!