Wednesday, September 7, 2011

AAI Child is "Community Hero" in Utah

Recently an AAI adoptive mom shared with our listserve community that her son Phile was chosen as a  Community Hero this summer.  Phile has multiple special needs and spent time at our Opportunity House program.  Her story and some pictures are below.  


Our son, Phile, came home exactly two years ago. He spent about a year at Layla House but most of his time was at Opportunity House. Phile is seven years old and has been diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, autism, severe developmental delays and a seizure disorder called Lennox Gastaut Syndrome. As my mom once described, our family went through a pretty big "storm" that lasted well over a year after Phile came home. We spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals, doctors, offices, therapies, counseling, schools, etc. trying to find help for our son and our families "new normal."

We live in a small town of about 20,000 people in Utah. Each summer, our community has a week long celebration including a parade, carnival, rodeo, concert and a variety of other activities. As a part of the celebration, a community hero is selected based on nominations. To kick off the celebration, the "Hero" is announced. Phile was secretly nominated by a neighbor and was chosen by the city as the Hero. The city got in contact with members of my family to get more information about Phile and our family. We had no idea any of this was going on!

One afternoon my sister told us she had a surprise for our family and that we needed to go for a short drive to get to it. So we all got in the car and followed her a little over a mile from our house to a new park the city was building. When we pulled up, over a hundred people were there cheering and chanting Phile's name. There were family, friends, teachers, nurses - all people whose lives have been affected and hearts touched by their interaction with our son. It was incredible and we were completely shocked and overwhelmed! It turns out that the park the city was building is unique in that it is a handicapped accessible, special-needs park...and it was named after our son. There is a plaque on display with a picture of our son and his story which was written by my mom. The mayor was at the "reveal" and honored our son and our family. Our family was invited to ride in the parade and to be special guests at the Clint Black concert that weekend. It was also announced that all the proceeds from the city's celebration would be used to fund a rec program for the 200+ special needs children in our area. We were speechless! The park is nearly complete and we have asked to the city if we can add a handprint mural so Phile's park can honor all the special needs children in our city.

Where Phile lacks in "ability" he more than makes up for in heart. He has truly taught us the meaning of unconditional love. There are days where I find myself in a bad mood or feeling upset for one reason or another. Then I see my son who, in my mind, has every reason to be frustrated at life but is so happy and just smiles, laughs and finds joy in the simplest things. I am so grateful for his example, for my neighbor, the community that I am a part of, and my family who take the time to find the rainbows in the storms of life.

-Becky A.
wife to a fabulous man and mom 4 beautiful bio girls and 2 amazing boys we were blessed to find

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