Our family relocated to Atlanta in the Fall of 2015 and we were immediately inspired by the community’s philanthropic support of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as we spotted Boo signs and Mailbox Brigade tags throughout town. We were thrilled to be involved in such generosity the following year when a friend invited us to help decorate mailboxes in the Arden/Argonne neighborhood. While our two daughters played in various front yards, my husband and I met new friends, too, all while attaching greenery and red bows to mailboxes.
The significance of Mailbox Brigade became even more poignant in 2017 when our youngest daughter, Kinsley, spent over three months at Egleston waiting for and recovering from a heart transplant. During Kinsley’s hospitalization, we directly experienced the compassion and heroism that defines Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Not only did they treat and work tirelessly to give Kinsley a second chance at living a fulfilling life, they involved her big sister, Campbell, in numerous portions of Kinsley’s care and therapies to help her cope and understand her sister’s circumstances.
Thanks to the skill and unyielding dedication to every element of our daughters’ success, Kinsley and Campbell are both thriving, rambunctious and happy today.
Eager to show our gratitude, friends and family helped us expand the mailbox brigade into to the Westminster/Milmar neighborhoods in 2018. We were thrilled to decorate over 60 mailboxes in our first year and cannot wait to see how many more we can accomplish in 2019. Our family’s favorite holiday tradition remains counting mailbox brigade tags as we drive through Atlanta because we know that each one has a direct impact on the ongoing health and wellness that our daughters enjoy. Thank you for purchasing a mailbox and extra gratitude to those of you who donate your precious free time to help decorate them!
Born on May 13, 2014, Fenton is the baby of his family. From the start, his personality was an easy read: he would not settle for being the little one! He does things his own way, in his own time, and with maximum curiosity. He loves life and learning. Fenton graduated into Pre-Kindergarten at The Glenn School in May of 2018 and summer was off to a good start. He was loving the long days and pool time while his family worked packing their house to move to a new neighborhood. Fenton celebrated his 4th birthday at a playground party. Then, on a Saturday morning one month later, he woke up complaining of headaches and neck pain. He headed to the ER after he lost feeling in his right hand. Quickly, he was admitted to ICU at Children’s Egleston Hospital where an MRI diagnosed him with a rare disorder called Transverse Myelitis. Later, the CDC confirmed his condition to be the more debilitating Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM), one of four cases in Georgia and nearly 200 nationwide in 2018. Fenton’s spine was impaired with inflammation that quickly destroyed tissue including nerve conduits to his extremities. His entire body became paralyzed one week into the hospital stay. Specialists tried to unearth the reason by testing for viruses, infectious diseases, and autoimmune disorders. All the lab work was negative.
Now a year later, Fenton remains paralyzed above the waist and ventilator dependent requiring constant care. The AFM condition is alarming the medical research community in its likeness to polio. It is believed to be a summer respiratory virus that certain children (typically young males) lack a gene to defend. As such, physicians predict Fenton’s outlook by comparing him to patients impaired by polio generations ago. There is a degree of permanence, but fortunately technology has improved and means of sophisticated care are much more accessible today than years ago.
Today, Fenton’s life is built upon a weekly therapy schedule. With electrical stimulation and consistent movement, children like Fenton show strengthening and subtle, yet meaningful muscle improvements over time. His family has watched the progression of his legs coming back online, now up to his hips. Fenton chases opportunities to work with specialists in Philadelphia and Baltimore and his caregiving team stays prepared to follow any new lead along his course. While the future will be different for Fenton, his family feels so fortunate to have him here impacting new lives in very meaningful ways.
Fenton received the first Boo sign of the season at his therapy session a few weeks ago. Support kids like Fenton and buy a Boo!