|Tony and Pumpkin|
Good hearts and good heads
Sharing the many ways children’s lives have improved because of your support is our gift of thanks to YOU. Our recent visit to McKenna Farms allowed us to follow up with Jacob’s Fund Kids, hear about their journeys, celebrate their successes and offer additional support as necessary.
During that trip, our team was able to visit with Tony, a Jacob’s Fund scholarship recipient. Diagnosed with autism at an early age, Tony’s journey has been a hard one and life continues to throw challenges in his path.
For most children, their mother is the foundation of their world. For Tony, his mom, Carol, was all that and more: she was his caretaker and complete support system. After only two years of therapy at the Farm, Tony’s mother was given a diagnosis of esophageal cancer, inoperable and terminal.
The underpinnings of Tony’s world collapsed. The family’s resources and energy centered on his mother's health and care. Without a stable home life and unable to continue his therapy sessions, Tony began to withdraw; his attitude and behavior began slipping.
That’s when Jacob’s Fund stepped in. Thanks to your help, we were able to provide continuous weekly therapeutic riding, and Tony went on to qualify for the 2011 Equestrian Special Olympics. In her last weeks, Carol was able to watch her son compete and capture medals, cheering for each victory!
Shortly thereafter, Tony’s world turned upside down. Since his mother’s passing, he has become homebound, spending most of his time on the computer or just listening to music. His family is often absent and opportunities for outings are practically nonexistent as are social interactions. Thankfully, a weekend caregiver drives him to the Farm once a week for his one-hour sessions, the only consistent thing in his life.
Tony recently completed a work adjustment program offered by the state of Georgia and successfully worked at Goodwill, TJ Maxx and other short-term jobs, with transportation provided by the state. Back at home, and without transportation, Tony is unable to hold a job, something he desperately wants and needs. He is currently on a waiting list for life-skills classes as well as for placement in a group home.
While his body grows thinner and thinner, his hope and optimism is heartbreakingly beautiful. Tony may never be able to live independently. But his urge to take charge of as much of his life as he possibly can inspires us to find ways to help him live his life in the fullest possible way.
We know The Red Thread Promise community is full of good hearts and good heads. As you consider Tony’s story, we are open to fresh ideas for how to further help this wonderful young man, so full of hope and potential! If you or someone you know has experience working with adults with autism, we’d like to hear from you. Responses can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.