By Nicole Jonsson
Will was born six weeks early by emergency C-section on a cloudy spring day. His delivery was so urgent that his father didn’t make it to the hospital in time. He weighed only 3lb 10oz – a preemie.
He soon dropped below three pounds.
Real Challenges, Great Joy
Not being able to hold your child for the first five days of his life is heartbreaking. I’d touch his delicate, tissue-like skin through a circular hole in his incubator and read to him out loud. We finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by the time we could go home.
When Will was two months old, I took stock of all the different doctors and specialists we had seen; at that point, it was 14. I decided then and there to stop counting and start living. Raising a child with complex medical needs and severe disabilities is a dark path compared to your typical parenting experience. The challenges are real, but I won’t let that overshadow the joys of Will and being his Mom.
The Cowboy, the Daredevil, and the Joker
And Will is so much more than a boy with disabilities! He describes himself as a “cowboy”. He loves to ride and has been getting physical therapy on horseback since he was two years old. I’m also seeing glimmers of a daredevil starting to appear! He loves to dive underwater and push his physical limits in other ways. He is a knock-knock joke aficionado, loves to ride elevators, play baseball, swim, go bowling, and is the bravest little boy in the world. I’ve only seen him cry in pain once in his life, in recovery after neurosurgery a few years ago.
Will had a brain injury near the time of his delivery that manifested as cerebral palsy. C.P. symptoms can be very similar to those of a stroke. His motor functions are affected (extremely tight muscles), and he is unable to walk, talk, feed, or care for himself in any typical way. He uses a touch-screen speech device to communicate, has Cortical visual impairment (his brain has difficulty interpreting what his eyes see), and epilepsy.
Will uses a power wheelchair to stay mobile. He’s just starting to have success driving it on his own! (Can I tell you how stressful it is to teach a visually-impaired eight-year-old how to drive?) This sliver of independence has led to new and, ahem, “interesting” developments. He’s now able to disobey us by choosing NOT to go where he was asked to drive his chair. Strange but true: It’s hard to be stern and correct him when I feel this much joy!
Will’s Big Challenge
Our family has reached a major transition point this year. Our darling little boy has hit a growth spurt and now weighs almost 70lbs. It’s no longer safe to transfer him from his wheelchair to a car seat in our van. Insurance will help with the cost of adapting a newer van (ours is too old), but not with the cost of the vehicle itself.
If the last few winters have taught me anything, it’s that a van with a wheelchair lift is a necessity! Ice and snow make it treacherous to transfer Will safely, and pushing a 200+lb chair up a portable suitcase ramp into our van almost impossible. (If you are one of the many “parking lot angels” who came to my rescue over the last few years, a million thank-yous!)
Our little family could use your help. We are looking to make the funds we have available go as far as possible and buy a newish, used van to convert for roll-in wheelchair access. Will would be able to ride in the van while sitting in his power chair—no more transfers, no danger of slipping, falling, or injury.
A dream come true!
Thank you for reading our story and thank you for considering a donation.
~ Kris, Nicole, and Will Jonsson
Learn more about how you can help the Jonsson Family
The Jonsson Family is in desperate need of a new van with roll-in wheelchair access. With a new vehicle, Will would be able to ride in the van while sitting in his power chair – no more transfers, no danger of slipping, and no injuries. EveryDry Toledo is committed to giving back to the communities we serve. Donate today and help the Jonsson Family realize their dream!
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