michael

Meet Michael!

There are only four more days until the next Champions for Change game against NC State this weekend! Our next Champion, Michael Stone, is 19 years old and is a warm, friendly and kind soul. His mom, Annette Stone, provided a little background on Michael and his background.

Michael graduated from New Bern High School last year and received a standing ovation from his Senior Class, which attests to how well liked he is by his peers. He is a tall young man at 6’3″+. He has a great smile and a beautiful, warm loving face. He is considerate and caring of others, and he likes to inspire people and be a team leader.

Michael spent his senior year in New Bern living with his uncle. Both his dad and I had taken jobs in other towns, but Michael wanted to stay in New Bern and complete his diploma there. He now lives in Carrboro with me and has excelled since coming here. He has received his driver license and works on UNC Campus at Rams Head Dining Hall as a utility worker. He also volunteers for the after-school program at the YMCA, and stays very active.

Michael is diagnosed as Autistic, and he would be considered high functioning. Michael has/had an IEP that allowed him several modifications in the classroom. He has to have separate testing where someone will read the test to him, as well as a modified test. Michael has a distinctive “cognitive” style that makes him wonderfully unique. The obstacles of the disability are simply finding the right level for Michael, making sure he is achieving his highest and best. And yet, protecting him to ensure he doesn’t get taken advantage of by people, similar to obstacles all parents face. But with a child with learning disabilities who processes the world in such a different way, it is particularly difficult.

Michael loves to watch television shows on Nickelodeon or young teenage programming. He loves music bands like Big Time Rush or One Direction. He enjoys pop culture, especially as it relates to young teens. He plays basketball and spends time helping out at the YMCA. He has an interest in Yughio (spelling) and Pokémon. Michael likes to collect trophies, pins and other memorabilia.

We were introduced to the ARC through the Vocational Rehab program that Michael enrolled in after high school to help him find a job. The ARC was very successful in helping Michael to prepare and interview for jobs. Michael was provided a job coach until he was ready to work on his own. In the short time since Michael has worked in his position at the Dining Hall, he has done really well there and received a letter of appreciation/”atta boy” from his supervisor.

We heard about Champions for Change through the ARC. Michael loves to get involved in and do special events and to meet people, so he was especially interested in meeting all the “pretty ladies” on the softball team! :)

Maryland C4C Game

time and emily

Meet our Champions, Tim and Emily!

Champions for Change game day is this Sunday, and the UNC softball team is proud to welcome Tim Bradshaw and his daughter Emily. Both Tim and Emily are not only champions of their challenges in life but  in the hearts of many people. They are passionate and strong people who have persevered throughout their lives.  The UNC Softball team and UNC Athletics are honored to get the opportunity to share a game day with Tim and Emily. We asked Mary Ann Bradshaw, Tim’s wife, to tell us a little about Tim and Emily and their personal stories. Here is an inside look at our champions!

 

1. Describe  our “champions” for this Sunday.

We have a family of champions led by Tim, a wonderful husband, father, son and friend to many. He  loves the outdoors, especially fishing, and he loves baking, reading and music.  However, none of his interests match the passion and devotion he has to his family and his faith, which he has courageously shown over his lifetime, particularly since his latest traumatic brain injury in 2008.  His mid-life gift was not going to be a new sports car, but an opportunity to show others, including himself, how to model grace in the midst of unwelcome change. A modeling that has significantly blessed our family and others as well. It is a story that he has been encouraged to tell more, and our family is grateful for the opportunity to do so now.

Our other champion for the game is our daughter, Emily, a beautiful 13-year-old seventh-grade student who loves questioning and learning. She loves people, including her family. She loves music, especially country music, and singing. She also enjoys reading and her cat, Sammy.  Emily has gifts of compassion and justice for others, particularly those who may encounter challenges in their lives.

Tim and Emily share their home with wife and mom, Mary Ann; son and brother, Jacob (age 9); and mother-in-law and grandmother, Bessie (a spry 97-year-old).

 

2.  What disorders or conditions do your husband and daughter have? What obstacles or adversity has your husband, daughter and family faced? 

Tim is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor. When he experienced a vasovagal (passing out) episode in 2008 (secondary to an earlier hit on the head with our van’s rear door) and fell into our bathtub, hitting the left front side of his head with full force. No one could have predicted the rest of the journey.  Scans showed areas of encephalomalacia (dead brain tissue) in parts of his left temporal, parietal, and frontal lobes that were already there and had been there for quite some time.  We now know is that these areas were from Tim’s first major TBI when he was in an accident as a 13 year-old.  He fell down a steep hill on his bike outside of his home in Alabama and slammed into the pavement, hitting the left side of his head. Back then, once you regained consciousness, and your x-ray looked okay, you were sent home.  It was called a concussion but not a TBI.  No one knew to advice against playing contact sports like football and that once someone has had a TBI they are at greater risk for receiving more.  People also didn’t know that the long-term effects of multiple TBI’s over time.  Tim showed signs of a drop in grades, especially in math and writing, despite way above average intelligence, and a change in mood state were linked to the “concussion”/TBI. Now, these factors are beginning to be more-widely acknowledged.

Tim’s ability to deal with the issues for quite some time before they were brought to light in 2008 is a huge testament to his courage and tenacity. He graduated from college and then earned his Masters degree in Social Work, before spending almost 20 years working within some of the most difficult areas of practice.  He worked in areas of domestic and sexual abuse, and family violence, to name a few.  Since the TBI in 2008, and another in 2009, he could no longer work full-time. Yet, one would never know his problems just by looking at him.  Tim has had the gift of multi-tasking, as well as the inherited gift from his father of being a “jack of all trades”. It has been difficult for Tim to not be able to continue in the same paths as before, but he has continued to model perseverance and humility, despite his daily challenges.

Technology has certainly been helpful, as well as support within the brain injury world.  An adjunct therapy of HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) has also proven extremely providential for both Tim and Emily with both of their brain issues. Tim’s from TBI, and Emily’s of a more global nature.  After discovering the multiple benefits of adjunct therapy in combination with their other therapies, Tim and Emily now travel together to New Orleans every three months to receive booster treatments with Dr. Paul Harch. Ever since they both started HBOT they have experienced increased functionality with cognition, learning, sleep, mood, and physical balance, along with less fatigue. In addition, Tim has had no further debilitating headaches. It is not a panacea, but both Tim and Emily will attest to the difference this regimen of treatments has made for their lives on a daily basis and thus for our family’s life together.

 

3. What led you to become involved with The Arc?

Tim was referred to the Arc last year by Voc Rehab in Carrboro, where he was beginning the process at that time of exploring a possible return to some part-time work. This was a huge step made up of multiple smaller steps. Tim received wonderful support from the staff at the Arc, especially Duffy Palmer and Stephen Johnson. The Arc helped us find other local services and resources for Emily’s current and future needs. Ever since Emily was a toddler, she has loved having contact with groups from the Arc that have provided hands-on, volunteer assistance at some of Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation’s Adapted & Inclusion programs.

 

4. How has The Arc helped your husband, daughter and family?

The best way to say this is that the Arc has helped to normalize our experiences within the intellectual and DD (developmental disabilities’) world.  Whenever we enter the office, our family feels a tangible sense of belonging and understanding. There are a few other places that this sense of belonging exists for us, including the First in Families of NC, the Family Support Network of NC, and the Brain Injury Association of NC. Our family firmly believes that our world would be better if all places in all communities exhibited the same openness and inclusion that the Arc strives to show.

 

5. How did you hear about UNC Softball’s Champions for Change and why did this program interest you?

We received an email from the Arc and were immediately drawn to the goals of Champions for Change to create intentional community and connections between the UNC women’s softball team and those with disabilities, seen and unseen.  We hope to make some lasting connections with members of the team, and we are very grateful to have an opportunity for both of our children to be a part of the behind-the-scenes activities of their favorite collegiate athletes!

Article on 1st C4C Game

natalia

Meet Natalia Edwards Fouts! The 1st Champion!

Natalia Edwards Fouts will be the first Champion for Champions for Change! Her mothers Elizabeth and Melanie will accompany Natalia along with her sister Evie on Championship Sunday, March 9.  We asked her mother, Elizabeth, to tell share about Natalia and her journey. It is such an honor to have Natalia as our first Champion for our program!

 

1. Tell us a little about Natalia!

Natalia is eleven years old and has lived with her family here in Chapel Hill since she was adopted from Russia ten years ago.  She lives with her moms, Elizabeth and Melanie, and her three year old sister Evie. She is a sweet child who likes to play tickling games and chase.

 

2.  What are Natalia’s disorder(s) or condition(s)? What obstacles or adversity has she and your family faced? Daily? Accommodations? Adaptions?

Natalia was born with a cleft lip and palate that was repaired here in Chapel Hill shortly after her adoption.  When she was adopted, Natalia was very tiny and malnourished.  At seventeen months of age, she was the size of a six month old baby, could not sit up by herself, and was very weak.  When Natalia was adopted, it was obvious that she had many developmental challenges, but it was unknown how many of these would improve when she was given good nutrition and love.  Natalia has improved in all areas, but continues to experience challenges daily because of her autism spectrum disorder and cognitive disability. She also has a speech disorder called verbal apraxia that makes it difficult for her to form understandable words and sentences.  When Natalia was younger, she mainly communicated using sign language, but now she speaks in short sentences that are mostly understandable to those who know her well.  Natalia also was frequently overwhelmed when she was younger and it was challenging for us to leave the house with her because simple acts like going to the grocery store were too much for her.  Things like the hum of the refrigerator case at the store would be incredibly frightening to her and so we spent much of Natalia’s first few years at home.  Fortunately, Natalia has overcome most of these fears and now sees the world as a friendlier place.

 

3. What are your child’s favorite hobbies or activities?

Natalia loves to listen to music.  She particularly enjoys Bob Marley, Adele, and the Indigo Girls.  She also loves to look at family pictures on her iPad.  Currently she has about 23,000 pictures on there!  In addition, she loves to be active and outside.  She participates in multiple sports year round with Special Olympics of Orange Co., including softball, track, basketball, swimming, soccer, and cycling.

 

4. What led you to become involved with The Arc?

Natalia has been receiving services from the Arc since she was about five or six years old.  At the time she participated in a program that provided a care provider for a few hours as respite for parents/caregivers. Now the Arc is the provider of Natalia’s CAP services.  In brief, CAP is a program that allows individuals with disabilities support in the community.  Weekly, a care provider spends a few hours with Natalia working on goals like paying for an item out in the community, engaging in a new activity, setting the table, etc.

 

5. How has The Arc helped your child and family?

The care providers that Natalia has had through the Arc have almost all been UNC undergraduate students.  Because of her disability, Natalia has always had difficulty connecting with new people, although this has improved significantly, much in part due to some of the fantastic care providers she has had through the Arc.  She has become very close to many of these individuals and we have kept in touch after graduation because of this.  It has been wonderful watching Natalia develop relationships with individuals that are not in her family, and we are grateful to the Arc for sending some of those people our way.

 

6. How did you hear about UNC Softball’s Champions for Change? Why did this program interest you? 

We heard about Champions for Change through an email from the Arc and we thought that it sounded like a very fun activity for our entire family.  Natalia loves participating in sports with Special Olympics and she is also loves hanging out with college aged individuals (I think because of the great connections she has made with her Arc care providers) so it seemed like a good fit.  We also have been trying to go to more UNC sporting events as a family.  Both kids loved the UNC women’s basketball game we attended last weekend and we are looking forward to cheering on the UNC Softball team.

 

 

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