Gavin has an incurable Mitochondrial Disease and PKD, a neurological condition that causes tremors and episodes with different types of involuntary movements. I had never heard of either of these diseases until this year and the more I learn, the more I am inspired by this little boy. Gavin is a smart, funny, sweet little boy who faces daily struggles that we cannot imagine. Yet, he is in school whenever possible, eager to learn and do all of the things the other children take for granted. He has a service dog that alerts for seizures and PKD episodes who accompanies him to school each day.
After an episode or seizure, Gavin needs time to rest before he is able to rejoin the class. He has a bean bag that can be moved around the room as needed. He uses it to rest and recuperate from an episode, take a break whenever he gets overtired or as a seat when he is too shaky to sit in a chair. As you can see, Hershey is always at his side.
The other children in his class have accepted Hershey as part of the class and do a remarkable job of "ignoring" him. It is important that other children not pet him so that Hershey is able to stay attuned to Gavin's body chemistry. In fact, in a school of @ 1,000 children, there have been no issues with other students trying to interact with the dog. Gavin's mom accompanies him to school each day to act as a handler for the dog. She is incredible. Sometimes, as teachers, it can be difficult to have a parent in the classroom, since we all know that children can behave differently when their parents are around. Mrs. Lawrey does an amazing job of knowing when to assist Gavin and when to let his Gen. Ed teacher or I work with him. Gavin's family has seen him regress both physically and cognitively over the last 3 years, but their hopes for him continue to be positive. I have so much admiration for any parent who fights to give their child as normal a life as possible and Gavin's parents do a great job.
Gavin has a big sister, Makenzie. She is such a special little girl. She loves her brother and takes care of him whenever she can. In fact, most of the money raised to defray the costs of getting Hershey came in as a result of Makenzie's idea of creating a website for people to use to donate. Gavin is surrounded by a loving family who are dedicated to helping him have as normal and healthy a life as possible.
I am finding it very difficult to express in words what I feel about this little boy. We love all of our students, but once in a while, we meet a student that finds a special place in our hearts and Gavin has done that for me. Some days it is heartbreaking to watch him struggle or deal with a PKD episode or a seizure. Other days, it is uplifting to see him laughing and participating in classroom activities. All I know for sure is that my life will never be the same after meeting and working with Gavin.
This is Mito Week. At our school, we have green ribbons outside the classroom doors and a large green ribbon made with Dixie cups in fence at the front of the school. In October, many of our schools' family participate in a golf scramble to help raise money for this incredible little boy. His medical costs are so high and it is a struggle for the family. Please visit Gavin's website at http://thegavinlawreytrustfund.webs.com/ if you would be interested in helping this family.
Have a Marvelous Monday!