MILLEDGEVILLE — Living with spastic cerebral palsy, being bilaterally blind, having severe brain damage and a movement disorder is incredibly challenging for anyone, but 2-year-old Brody Jackson continues to fight for his life, all the while with a positive spirit and an immense smile.
“He’s the most happiest child. Whenever I walk Brody into a room, people just fall in love with him and his smile, which radiates everything,” said Leigh Jackson, Brody’s mother. “Whenever Brody is out in public, it makes people grateful for what they have and their health. I know Brody is making an impact in a lot of children’s and adult’s lives.”
The Jackson family adopted Brody and his sister Hope at birth. Brody was born 31 weeks premature and weighing right at 3 pounds. Soon after birth, Brody suffered respiratory distress; he fought for more than a month in the NICU. He stayed on a ventilator and PICC Line until he gained weight before he was diagnosed with PVL, a form of white-matter brain injury. Right after his second birthday in May, Brody was also diagnosed with dystonia, a movement disorder that causes muscles to contract and spasm involuntarily. He continues to do hippotherapy every week at Brave Meadows Therapeutic Riding Center in Gray.
“He is a severe special needs child, but he does have a future. Brody can just about do anything as long as he puts his mind to it; he’s going to get there. The doctors think he’s come a long way and his future looks promising,” Leigh said. “His condition is life-threatening, but his future does look promising, so we’re trying to stay as positive as we can.”
Brody visits his physical therapist and doctors in Atlanta and Macon a couple times per week. In December, doctors at Emory Hospital suggested that Brody needed to undergo brain surgery. During Wednesday’s visit to Emory, doctors said he will also need a second round of Botox injected into his legs to help loosen up his muscle tone, a surgery Brody will have in March.
“As Brody’s brain is growing, he’s running out of space. Boston Children’s Hospital has the best specialized neurosurgeon in PVL and doctors for Brody’s condition,” Leigh said. “We need to get there as soon as possible, but we’re hoping to make it at least by June. The surgery will help his brain be able to completely grow. We’ll have to stay there for at least a week.”
The family hopes to raise $12,000 to help fund the Boston trip and purchase a specialized bed and a small therapy pool.
“It’s hard raising a special needs child, but I try to make it as normal as possible for him and our family,” Leigh said. “I don’t see Brody different from any other child; he laughs, he loves food and he loves everybody. I want things to be as normal for Brody as it can be.”
The family held a “A Walk for Brody” fundraiser in November 2012, where they were able to raise $1,100. The proceeds helped Brody purchase a gait trainer, which has helped him gain strength to hold up his upper body.
Last weekend, Little Miss Style Salon held a yard sale with Hope, Brody’s older sister, and her friends Audrey Uzzo and Lexie Morris taking charge. The girls raised $367.
“The girls felt like they wanted to help Brody,” Leigh said. “We’re thankful to everybody that comes and helps us. We’re very grateful and appreciative for everyone and we’re hopeful for Brody’s future.”
For more information, to make a monetary donation, or help with fundraising ideas, visit www.gofundme.com/5vla64, or the Brody’s Love Facebook page.
“If anyone who has never met Brody gave him a chance, their lives would be changed. Brody is sent here to do a job, and he’s doing it on so many people,” Leigh said. “Everyday I fight for Brody. We want Brody to be able to live on. I don’t want to lose him.”
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