Building Confidence—Jackson’s story

A diagnosis of severe hydrocephalus at 20 weeks gestation meant Jackson’s parents faced many unknowns before he was born. Hydrocephalus is a condition where there is an excessive buildup of fluid inside the brain. Critical medical decisions would be necessary immediately after his birth.

Jackson made his entrance into the world in December of 2021. Fragile and only two days old, Jackson underwent surgery. He had a shunt placed to help drain the excess fluid from his brain to another area of the body where it could be absorbed.

Following his surgery, Jackson contracted bacterial meningitis—a life-threatening infection that covers the brain and spinal cord. Because meningitis can progress rapidly in infants, he was cared for in the ICU. For the first two months of his life, Jackson’s home was Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

In these early days, HOPE for Jackson’s parents was survival—one day at a time. 

Congenital hydrocephalus—Jackson’s diagnosis—can lead to various developmental delays in infants and children. Jackson isn’t able to crawl or walk without assistance. As he grows, this motor skill becomes more difficult. Jackson is also visually impaired, so reading cues and learning sign language take more work. 

Feeding has been one of Jackson’s biggest hurdles. His parents have tried many different foods, formulas, and encouragement strategies to help. Eventually, they added a feeding tube to ensure Jackson gets the nutrition he needs to keep him strong and healthy. 

Jackson started his therapy journey at just four months old. His parents were determined to help him overcome his challenges.

Jackson’s spirit and hard work come alive in therapy—he’s paving the way to adapt, become self-reliant, and overcome obstacles. Jackson is making huge strides. He is an energetic child, and therapy has helped him find supportive devices. 

He now has a stander, a gate trainer, and a scooter, all of which help him build muscle as he learns to get around! This equipment allows him to move about and live a more efficient and independent childhood. 

Therapy has also allowed Jackson and his parents to strengthen his communication skills so he can express his wants and needs without growing frustrated. 

As he progresses, HOPE is Jackson, growing more and more INDEPENDENT.

Greater independence allows for more daily fun and joy. Jackson is now able to roll around with his puppy! He loves listening to music and engaging with his cousins. 

Through Jackson’s specific feeding therapy, he’s discovering his sense of taste. He absolutely LOVES applesauce!

Jackson’s parents expressed that he wouldn’t be as strong and independent without the support of therapy. Full of personality, Jackson will clap for anyone who watches. And you can’t beat the smile—it’s infectious!

His dad stays home to support his day-to-day needs. As a one-income family, the medical, equipment, and therapy needs are financially draining. Unfortunately, there is no insurance coverage for his feeding therapy—a critical need. 

Determined for Jackson to continue progressing, they contacted Family Hope Foundation for help. They applied for and received a scholarship to Engage Therapy Center so he could focus on feeding. 

HOPE is financial support, lifting a burden, and knowing his therapy will continue. 

With less stress, his parents could focus on enjoying their little boy.

“Jackson’s scholarship gives us HOPE, just knowing we can keep building on the momentum Jackson is making with his therapy at Engage. 

We’re excited to see all he can accomplish as Jackson grows stronger. As parents, we want to help Jackson build a life he is proud of and help him feel confident in himself. 

We HOPE Jackson can experience life as if he could accomplish anything.”  

-Jackson’s parents

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