On Memorial Day, American’s pause to remember those who gave their lives and those who make sacrifices every day to protect our freedom. Few of us can imagine what active duty soldiers and their families endure.
And even fewer can imagine what it must be like to care for a child with serious health problems while worrying about a husband who is deployed fighting the war against terror in the Middle East.
This is the everyday reality of SP4 Tom and his wife Julie who have a young son named Johnny. Johnny is just 16 years old with big brown eyes and close cropped brown hair, much like his dad’s military issue haircut.
Johnny was born with a myriad of health issues and must live in a care center where he can get the around the clock attention he requires.
Johnny is in a wheelchair as a result of congenital hypotonia, or profound muscle weakness. He also suffers from osteoporosis and some upper GI bleeding.
As a result of his extremely limited mobility, Johnny is prone to bronchitis and pneumonia which has severely scarred his lungs.
Further complicating his respiratory issues,Johnny also has Legionnaires’ Disease. Legionnaires’ Disease is a severe form of pneumonia or lung inflammation which is prevalent in patients with weakened immune systems and existing respiratory problems.
Despite his many physical challenges, Johnny has likes and dislikes, just like any other 16 year old.
He is unable to communicate verbally but he smiles and laughs when he is doing something he likes and will turn away or refuse to participate in something that he dislikes.
He enjoys building with blocks and moving objects in and out of a cooler which is one of his favorite toys.
Johnny also enjoys going on outings to such places as the park, zoo, or to community sporting events.
However in 2014, Johnny had two severe bouts with pneumonia. Both times his oxygen levels dipped so low that they feared he might not live but Johnny's a fighter and he made it through.
It has been necessary to keep him on oxygen 24 hours a day to maintain his oxygen levels. Since the only oxygen concentrator the care center has is a large stationary unit, Johnny has been unable to do so many of the things he enjoys.
It has also been increasingly difficult to get him to and from necessary medical appointments.
This situation is compounded by the fact that dad is currently serving overseas. Know the difficulties that this family is facing, the Lt. Colonel of Tom’s battalion contacted 1st Class Medical to see if they could assist with finding Johnny a low cost concentrator.
His letter read, in part, “It is hard enough on a young soldier and his family while deployed.
The additional hardship of having a handicapped child only adds to that stress. We take care of our own!”
1st Class Medical has a close association with the VA and is extremely interested in trying to help veterans and active duty soldiers and their families whenever possible.
1st Class Medical and Sequal are teaming up to give Johnny, a SeQual Eclipse Portable Oxygen Concentrator.
This will allow Johnny to participate in meal times and other activities at the care center as well as go on outings again.
Johnny’s mom, Julie said, “I only want a normal life for my son. I realize he is a special child. I just want him to continue to experience those little things in life that are so important to him like spending time at the park, or zoo and spend time with his family.
The oxygen concentrator will make this happen. Just knowing I can again bring him home to spend time with me brings tears to my eyes.
I am so grateful to all the wonderful people who are helping. I do not know what to say. My heart is so happy.”
Hearing how much a portable oxygen concentrator is going to enhance Johnny’s life inspired 1st Class Medical and their sister company, The COPD store to start a program to help more veterans, active duty soldiers, and veteran’s organizations.
100% of these proceeds will go to buy concentrators, mobility aids, nebulizers or other items to help our combat heroes.
You can help in four ways:
1. Shop for accessories at the COPD Store and 1st Class Medical in the month of June.
2. Contribute directly to the Helping Heroes, GoFundMe account. There is no minimum donation and every little bit helps!
3. Nominate a soldier or organization that you feel could benefit from one of our products. Submit Your Nomination Here. We will select those who we feel could most benefit from this fund on July 4th, 2015.
4. Share this story, your nomination, and our GoFundMe link on Facebook, Twitter, email or any other means you feel would be helpful.
Shop, Contribute, Nominate, and Share today! Thank your for helping us Help Heroes this July 4th!