Julia Covill (2nd from left) and friends posing for prom pictures in 2012
The Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation program at Milestones is celebrating 25 years of service. Mary Covill shares her daughter’s story
For our daughter Julia, prom night 2012 wasn’t just a rite of passage – it was a milestone we weren’t sure would ever be possible. Except for the walker at her side, you wouldn’t know that the smiling teenager in the purple, strapless dress, arms wrapped around friends while posing for pictures, couldn’t walk or remember everyday words just months earlier.
Some seemingly ordinary moments are forever seared into a parent’s memory. For us, that’s the afternoon of Feb.11, 2012 as Julia left for a friend’s house to get ready for a winter dance. I remember warning her it was supposed to snow, telling her to drive slowly.
A long way from being placed in hospice at age 2. Dan, 19, is planning to attend college soon.
The Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation program at Milestones is celebrating 25 years of service. Mary Foy shares how her son Daniel has faced numerous challenges in his life, but thanks to his time at Milestones, he’s preparing to attend college next year.
Many parents talk about the whirlwind of emotion surrounding the day of their first baby’s birth and our story was no exception. Within hours of experiencing the joy and excitement of finally meeting our firstborn, blue-eyed baby boy Dan, I learned he had a serious heart condition that could kill him.
Dan had what’s called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect that occurs when parts of the left side of the heart don’t completely develop. At four days old, instead of coming home, he was undergoing his first open-heart surgery at University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
The Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation program at Milestones is celebrating 25 years of service. Bill and Debbie Belcher share how their grandson Gabe’s life changed after a leukemia diagnosis.
Our grandson Gabe was just five years old when two life-altering events suddenly crashed his kindergartner world. First was the diagnosis no family can ever be prepared for when we were told Gabe had acute lymphocytic leukemia (A.L.L.) Then, shortly after starting treatment, complications led to another unimaginable outcome- he became paralyzed.
When I first learned that I was pregnant with identical twins, I was six weeks into the pregnancy. My husband and I were informed shortly afterwards about the potential risks of developing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). Our doctor told us approximately 10 to 15 percent of twins who share the same placenta develop TTTS. The risk was always there in the back of our minds, but we didn’t dwell on what might happen.
We were referred to the University of Michigan Maternal Fetal Medicine team for high-risk pregnancies. I just figured we were going to receive top-notch prenatal care! Then, at my 16-week check up, the doctor saw signs that TTTS may be developing and immediately sent us for a more in-depth ultrasound.
When I played on the U-M softball team, I got involved in a program for student-athletes called Michigan From the Heart. In that program, U-M student-athletes met at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital every Thursday evening to visit patients and their families. It’s a big deal for the U-M sports teams, and we often rushed from practice on Thursdays so we could go.
We’d divide up so each group of student-athletes included a good mixture of athletes from different sports, and then we’d spread out around the hospital. It was an amazing experience and really opened my eyes to the struggles and the courage of these children and their families. My father died of cancer at the start of my junior year of college, after being in remission for 5 years, so cancer has also made a mark on my personal life.
After graduation, I was drafted to the USSSA Pride National Pro Fastpitch softball team. I wanted to continue to help Mott and raise funds, so I combined my love of softball with my passion for Mott and created FIGHT. We held our first “So You Think You Can Hit” event in 2012. I’m a fastpitch softball pitcher and over the years, I’ve heard many of my male friends brag how they could hit one of my pitches. I had them step up to the plate, make a donation and give it a shot.
When our then 4-year-old daughter Keira complained of a stomachache, we thought she was probably constipated. We gave her laxatives and took her to the pediatrician who also agreed it was most likely constipation. He told us to bring her back in two weeks if she wasn’t improving.
Her stomach continued to hurt and her abdomen became very swollen. We took her back to the doctor who ordered some blood work and X-rays. He told us that if she wasn’t better in the morning to take her to the Emergency Room. Keira tried to convince us that she felt better, but we knew she was still in pain. We took her to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital ER.
My husband drove Keira up to Ann Arbor from our home in Tecumseh and I stayed home with our son, Cooper, who was 2 years old at the time. After several hours, my husband called and told me they’d found a mass on Keira’s left kidney and thought it was cancer. I quickly found someone to care for our son and rushed to Mott.
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