By LLH Staff Member
Seven years ago parents Jon and Katie Vandrell sat in the doctor’s office getting an ultrasound of what they believed to be their second perfectly healthy baby girl. At the end of the appointment, they left with a weight far heavier than a set of photos to display on the fridge: there was possible swelling in Lucy’s brain.
Several appointments and sleepless nights later, Jon and Katie learned that Lucy had Spina Bifida. They were told this would have a significant impact on her independence and she may never walk.
Soon after the diagnosis, Jon and Katie headed to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, TN for a trial surgery developed for children with Spina Bifida. Within the womb, at just 25 weeks old, Lucy underwent her first procedure. “Jon and I went from thinking the worst to having hope,” says Katie. And that hope grew when a family friend told Jon about a developmental center in Tulsa that would help Lucy even more.
Lucy was put on the Little Light House waiting list before she was born, and at two years old, with a raspberry-colored walker in tow, Lucy began her first day of school. “If I close my eyes, I can still hear the clicking sound those walker wheels made,” says Katie. When she began classes, Lucy lacked balance, strength, and stamina, however by her second year, Lucy put aside that rasberry-colored walker and began to walk independently.
For the Vandrell’s, the Little Light House was so much more than a school. “The strong relationships we formed with staff, volunteers, and other Little Light House families strengthened our faith in God and the purpose He has for us,” says Katie. “To see your child struggle amongst their peers is extremely painful. To constantly be reminded of her disability and what she can’t do weighs very heavily on a parents mind. The Little Light House took all of those thoughts away.”
Today, Lucy is independent, accepting of her challenges, and equipped with the tools to figure out how to overcome any obstacle. Because of the Little Light House, she has been able to tap into many strengths and qualities that will support her the rest of her life. Lucy is a genuine friend with huge leadership skills and a desire to include everyone around her. She has the biggest heart and doesn’t see differences. In the words of her mom, “The Little Light House wrote Lucy a new story!”
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