Jeremiah is a soft spoken, shy, and extremely respectful 14-year-old young man. He loves music, manga and his dog, and smiles when he talks about his two-year-old niece. He lives in east Austin with his mom, who is an amazing parent to Jeremiah. He has two older sisters and a supportive father. He’s looking forward to high school and dreams of playing in the band at Lyndon B. Johnson High School.
Jeremiah is also diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is a condition that causes ulcers in the digestive tract leading to abdominal pain, inflammation and extreme weight loss. The disease is debilitating, and can lead to life threatening complications. Treatment can help, but this condition can’t be cured. He has spent many months homebound – missing school, missing friendships, missing a normal life. Jeremiah is both a typical teenage boy, and a chronic illness warrior.
In addition to this serious diagnosis Jeremiah relies on multiple medications and medical devices for his asthma and sleep apnea. Due to Jeremiah’s complex dietary and nutritional needs, the family often struggles to provide quality food while taking care of other basic needs, including their higher than average electric bill caused by Jeremiah’s multiple assistive medical devices. They regularly travel to a clinic 40 miles away for treatments and appointments, which puts a strain on the family. So on top of medical bills, food costs, electricity, prescriptions and insurance, Jeremiah’s family is worried about simple needs like filling the gas tank.
One thing that’s always full is the love Jeremiah’s mom has for her son. Like mothers do, she worries a lot about her son– both about his disease and his general quality of life. How he’ll fit in in high school, how he’ll catch up on the education he’s missed, what his future holds. She spends any free time she has researching his condition, learning to cook new, nutritious meals, taking him to appointments and advocating for him tirelessly. And she has her own health to consider, including a workplace injury that keeps her from being able to bring in a steady salary. The family relies on SNAP and Medicaid/Medicare services as well as income assistance.
Jeremiah’s family is extremely close and caring, supportive of each other above all else. But they’re in need of community support. As part of the Any Baby Can family, we’re helping Jeremiah and his mom overcome challenges through our Comprehensive Advocacy and Resources for Empowerment (CARE) program, which provides home-based medical case management, peer support groups, and access to school and community resources for kids with special healthcare needs.
Jeremiah and his family are part of this year’s Adopt-a-Family. Like many of our client families, they spend all their money and time on medical needs, transportation, resources for their kids, and other basic needs. They don’t have the money to give themselves a Christmas that many of us take for granted: a festive tree, a holiday meal and gifts.
Our Adopt-a-Family event matches client families with people in our community who are able to purchase a gift for each family member, ensuring that everyone can experience holiday cheer.
Families like Jeremiah’s inspire us at Any Baby Can. Their love, dedication, kindness, and commitment to self-improvement inspire us to do better and fight harder for our client families. We hope you’re inspired as well and consider adopting a deserving Any Baby Can family this holiday season!