In September 1987, our family made the most difficult decision to place our youngest child in a group home operated by Aspire of Western New York.
Bill's medical issues, including very erratic behaviors and a complex seizure disorder, became more than one family could handle safely. The final straw came when Bill nearly drowned. His older siblings, Larry, then age 16, and Laura, age 15, saved his life. They gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and called 911 in a matter of a few minutes.
After that traumatic day, we knew Bill needed 24-hour care by competent individuals trained to manage his behaviors and medical needs. With all the strength we could gather, we placed our 13-year-old son in the care of Aspire, then called United Cerebral Palsy of Western New York.
Through the years, we have experienced many challenges with Bill. We've tried a variety of medications to control seizures as well as behavior. The staff at his Aspire group home has done its best to help Bill live his life to the fullest.
Bill is now 33. This past year, he experienced another neurological event that caused him to fall and break his hip. Bill was immediately taken to the emergency room. It was discovered that he required surgery to repair a broken hip.
It took a long stay in the hospital to nurse him back to stability. At the time of discharge planning, not one rehabilitation facility within a 50-mile radius of Buffalo would or could take Bill.
With the typical compassion and vigor the nonprofit agency is known for, Aspire's house management and medical staff took the bull by the horns and said, "We will rehabilitate Bill at his group home." Rehabilitation began immediately. Aspire's therapy team evaluated and arranged for the special equipment that was needed. Group home staff members were trained by Aspire's medical and therapy team on how to best care for Bill. They learned how to help him get in and out of chairs, his hospital bed and the shower facility. They also were trained on how to help him gradually take his first steps.
Every time I visited Bill, staff members were eager to tell me about his progress. I watched how tenderly they encouraged him, took care of him, loved him and even mothered him. I received regular updates through personal phone calls from the house manager. Aspire management also called to make certain that I was completely satisfied with Bill's care.
Little by little, he regained confidence. This past Thanksgiving, we were overjoyed to have Bill sitting at our family's dinner table and thrilled to see him slowly walking!
Too many times, group homes are resisted by communities and neighborhoods. Please think of this story when you hear of a home being developed.
My Bill is alive today because of nearly 20 years of quality care. He is walking today because of a very dedicated group of people who made it their mission to get Bill back up on his feet. Our family is one story, but there are thousands of families who will need support at some point.
My family is deeply grateful to Aspire for its commitment, dedication and hard work that got Bill walking again. Thank you for taking on this challenge and meeting it head on.