PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Parents want to give their child a fighting chance, to make sure every opportunity that awaits them can be discovered, and every step they will take in life is well-traveled.
For that reason, one Canadian family moved more than 1,500 miles, so their son could attend a special school in Phoenix. Their son's condition so rare, he's the only one in the world with it. There's no name for the condition, and no real prognosis. Thanks to the Foundation for Blind Children, however, there is great hope.
Imagine a world almost completely void of sound. A world that lacks your favorite sights. That is Henry More's world. The six-year old is a student at the Foundation for Blind Children.
"He's considered deaf and blind, which is pretty rare," said Henry's mother, Taylor More. She says it's also rare that Henry is participating and interacting with his classmates.
"We thought we were having another typical child," said Taylor. "He passed every test, every screen. Definitely, he was just meant to be here."
Henry was born in Vancouver, in Canada's British Colombia province, and is Taylor and Jonathan More's second son. Henry's older brother, Harrison, was almost two years old when Henry was born.
"When he came out, he was small, he was purple," said ___. "They couldn't get him breathing for a really long time. Nobody knew what was wrong."
"The problem with Henry is that he's the only one in the world with his condition, or his chromosome deletion," said Jonathan.
The rare chromosome deletion meant his parents had no idea what was in store for Henry. His first year of life was spent in and out of the hospital. A year after that, the family went to Phoenix, and toured the Foundation.
"It was at that moment in the car that we decided that we are going to be moving from Vancouver, Canada to Phoenix, taking everything and relocating, so Henry could attend Foundation for Blind Children," said Jonathan.
"Henry showed up here, the first day of school, being pulled in a wagon by his mom, cause he can't walk," said Marc Ashton, CEO for the foundation.
To someone else, the challenges could have proved too overwhelming. Ashton, however, says not here, and not Henry.
"We taught him how to stand, got him muscles memory to stand, then to take his first step with assistance, and then to take his first step with a walker, and then a walker with wheels that lets him go faster," said Ashton.
A month ago, at six years of age, Henry took his first seven steps all by himself. Even though doctors said he would never walk unassisted, everyone is hopeful he will do it again.
"I think it's in him," said Taylor. "It just gives me such confidence in all the therapy that we do."
"This kid does hours of therapy, hours of speech training, feeding therapies, physical therapy for his muscle tone, and you know, never say never," said Jonathan.
"Henry learns best with hands-on, real experiences," said teacher Jaime Packader. "If he has the real object and he has someone close to his side to bring the world to him, he's so much more successful."
Packader is the elementary teacher team leader at the foundation. She says the teacher-student ratio, small class size, and common deaf-blind strategies taught at the foundation are the reason behind students' success.
"We try to make it engaging with their peers so they're playing with them also throughout the day, and really motivates them," said Packader. "Like Henry, they start to walk and run and engage with his environment."
The Foundation for Blind Children opened its doors in 1952 in Phoenix. At the time, they served four clients. Today, it serves more than 2,000 children and adults, valleywide. While the non-profit has grown tremendously, the one thing that hasn't changed is the foundation on which it was built
"We never, ever believe we can't help, because we know there is always potential," said Ashton.
The staff, Henry's teachers, Henry's aide, and Henry's family believe he has barely tapped into his potential.
"We usually go around the neighborhood and then I ride my bike, and then, like, my mom walks him in his bike," said Henry's big brother, Harrison, who dreams of riding bikes together, with Henry, one day.
"So he could, like, walk and talk and actually be like me," said Harrison.
"I think the most important thing, as a parent, what you have to do is give your child the best chance possible at succeeding at life," said Jonathan.
Henry has already learned to eat on his own, and he is learning non-verbal communication. His incredible show of will power and strength is a motivation for everyone around him.
"Hopefully, his world can just get bigger and bigger and he can understand it more," said Taylor.
Henry's parents and are hopeful he will keep walking on his own, despite doctors saying he never would.
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Foundation for Blind Children