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Family Stories

The Miller family poses together outside in front of a stream.

The Miller Family

Watching your child take their first steps is an emotional moment for any parent. For Brad and Amy Miller, the milestone represented all the obstacles their son Ryker has overcome in his short life. Ryker, age 3, was born with spina bifida and a structural defect in his brain called Chiari malformation. He’s had 11 surgeries, a tracheostomy, a gastrostomy tube and many hospitalizations. The Millers credit the Division of Specialized Care for Children and Ryker's medical team for helping their son achieve his full potential.

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A portrait of all 10 members of the Lyons family.

The Lyons Family

Natalie (Tallie) Lyons and her twin were born prematurely. Tallie experienced complications and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. When Tallie needed major surgery to improve the muscle tone and tension in her legs, the Division of Specialized Care for Children was able to help.

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DSCC participant Jakob Kojro-Badziak smiling and posing with his parents, Jason and Jennifer

The Kojro-Badziak Family

Jennifer and Jason Kojro-Badziak met their son, Jakob, when he was 2 months old and hospitalized in the neonatal intensive care unit of an Indiana hospital. The couple immediately fell in love and started the adoption process. They were immediately thrust into the chaotic world of raising a medically complex child. Jennifer said the Division of Specialized Care for Children has helped her family navigate this new world and provide the best life possible for Jakob.

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Nedra Whitted smiles at her grandson Stanton as the two sit together

The Whitted Family

Stanton Whitted's short life has been a series of new diagnoses, physical and developmental delays, medical procedures, therapies and treatment plans. With the help of the Division of Specialized Care for Children and other community supports, Stanton is now an active little boy showing more potential than his family thought possible.

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Portrait of Division of Specialized Care for Children participant Everett Jamison

The Jamison Family

Everett Jamison's journey with a rare form of epilepsy has been a hard battle and an emotional roller coaster for he and his family. His mom, Trisha, says their Division of Specialized Children Care Coordinator has provided valuable emotional support and resources to navigate the medical, social and financial issues that come with Everett’s condition.

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Trooper Orosco portrait

Trooper’s Family

Brandy Santiago was pregnant with her son Trooper Orosco when he was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Trooper then failed his newborn hearing screening after birth. Brandy says the Division of Specialized Care for Children helped her family navigate the new world of her son's diagnoses. DSCC continues to provide a valuable support system as he grows and develops.

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Former DSCC participant Zayd Jawad sits outside.

Zayd’s Family

Zayd Jawad knows the challenges of growing up with a rare disease all too well. The 21-year-old was born with Hunter syndrome, a lysosomal storage disorder that affects his bodily systems and physical growth and development. UIC's Division of Specialized Care for Children was a constant presence throughout his childhood and adolescence, providing much-needed reassurance to Zayd and his parents. This support gave him hope and put him on the path to helping others.

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The Doueihi Family

The Doueihi Family

Sabrina Doueihi was born with a fatty tissue that squeezed her spinal cord as she grew, eventually affecting her ability to walk and use her limbs. Her family says the Division of Specialized Care for Children has helped them adjust to Sabrina’s changing needs and provide the right equipment and supports to foster her independence.

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Payton sits in his wheelchair inside a van equipped with a ramp.

Payton’s Family

Payton was born with a gene mutation so rare that it doesn’t have a name. The condition affects the STXBP1 gene and causes seizures, developmental delays, nonverbal communication and abnormal muscle movements. The Division of Specialized Care for Children has helped provide the accommodations, equipment and resources needed to help Payton stay active and comfortable as he grows.

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Saurabh Agarwal smiling and seated with his daughter, Radhika; son, Ayush; and wife, Mukta.

The Agarwal Family

At 11 years old, Radhika Agarwal suddenly started seizing and was diagnosed with refractory epilepsy with autoimmune limbic encephalitis. The effects of the disease were devastating. With the help of DSCC, Radhika's parents were eventually able to bring their daughter home and find a new normal together as a family.

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