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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Moms become advocates through children's health challenges

I have a friend who wanted to get the word out about a new group for young adults with special needs and disabilities called Young Life Capernum Pinellas County. I told her I would contact some of my friends in the media to help promote her organization. As I started, I began to think about some of the moms I know that have been given a new purpose in life after a life-altering event has taken place with one of their children.
My friend Christy Warden has a son who was born with Down syndrome. His name is Shawn and he is 10 years old. She told me how her whole world changed the day her son was born.

“God gave me the peace that he would get me through the rough time of adjustment, and then placed on my heart that Shawn would change the thinking of the world one family at a time,” she said.

I can tell you her son is doing just that. He is a very wonderful child, full of energy and life. Recently her son was in modeling and acting classes with my two girls at Korisma studios. He made such a positive impact on my girls and all the kids in the class. Warden says she wants to make her son’s life as normal as possible. She has him in sports including gymnastics and tennis.

So many families just feel lost when they are blessed with a child with Down syndrome,” Warden said, “Shawn gives families hope. He puts the dream back in their eyes for their children.”

Warden quit her job and focuses on making sure kids with special needs get the same opportunities as kids without special needs. Warden is now helping head up Young Life’s Capernaum Ministries in Pinellas County. It’s a nonprofit, non-denominational ministry for young adults with special needs. It was founded in 1941. Twice a month, the teens will get together for a few hours and do a fun activity, learn the gospel and know they are loved and accepted. They will have an event called Harvest Fest on October 20th at Woodlawn Community Academy in Clearwater. 

I also have a friend, Jillian Servo, who lost her son, Owen, last year at the age of 14 months. He suffered a rare terminal genetic condition called X-linked myotubular myopathy. Suncoast Hospice was there to help the family. Now Servo has focused her time and energy on helping other families in the same situation or similar situation. She is going back to school and getting her master’s degree in Biblical counseling and recently became a spokesperson for Hospice. You can see her on local television commercials and on billboards with her husband, promoting Hospice. Look for Hospice volunteers during their holiday gift wrapand tree of love events during December at Countryside and Tyrone Square Malls.

Another friend of mine, Lisa Cavanaugh, has a daughter, Madison, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was 4. Cavanaugh started a wonderful blog about her daughter and the day-to-day process they went through while Madison was being treated for this blood cancer. It gives parents an idea of what they may have to go through if their child is diagnosed with leukemia. Cavanaugh also became very involved in raising awareness of this disease. She has helped families know there is hope for kids that have leukemia. Today Madison is 7 years old and is cancer free! Madison also helps get the word out about pediatric cancer and was the Suncoast Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Girl of the Year a few years ago. The month of September the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society observes Blood Cancer Awareness Month, raising awareness of this cancer and letting the public know about the resources available for blood cancer patients and their families.

These moms have taken obstacles and challenges in life and made them into a mission to help others. How rewarding for all!



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