TUSCUMBIA — For nearly a year, 16-month-old Alana Morgan, of Russellville, has received services provided by the local cerebral palsy center and she is thriving.
Alana is one of eight children featured as a poster child for the 49th annual United Cerebral Palsy Telethon, sponsored by the Florence Civitan Club. It will be televised from 1-5 p.m. March 3 on WHDF-15, The Valley’s CW.
The money raised stays in the Shoals to serve area children and their families.
For service recipients like Alana’s mother, Jennifer, the center has meant all the difference in her daughter’s improvement.
Alana was born with Pierre Robin syndrome, or sequence. It is a condition present at birth, in which the infant has a smaller-than-normal lower jaw, a tongue that falls back in the throat and difficulty breathing.
Alana’s muscles and speech are affected. The Morgans were told at Alana’s birth that stretching therapy for her muscles, and speech therapy will be key to her progress.
“We’ve gone to the CP Center for nearly a year and her muscles are getting looser and she’s doing much better,” Jennifer Morgan said. “What has been so valuable for me is that they’ve taught me how to work with her at home so I can stay on top of it. It’s made all the difference with her.
“They’ve worked miracles for my child. As a mother, it’s impossible to thank people adequately for such a gift. I’m just hoping this telethon goes really well, because there are so many families out there in need of these services.”
The programs offered at the center include early intervention where pediatric therapy services include physical, occupational, cognitive and speech therapies, the Wee Care early learning program for children with and without disabilities and the Hearts Respite program that provides money for families with developmentally disabled children to hire sitters.
Center Director Alison Isbell said the center operates on a budget of about $500,000, with approximately $90,000, in recent years, coming from telethon donations.
“Our goal is $125,000 but we’ve fallen short of that in recent years,” Isbell said. “Four years ago we began hosting a half-marathon, which helps us tremendously in supplementing what we’ve lost from the telethon.”
State funding cuts continue to be a factor. This year, the Children’s Trust Fund appropriation was $6,000.
“We really look to the telethon donations to help us make up the part of the budget that allows us to do extra things for our families, like provide much needed extra therapy and respite for caregivers,” Isbell said.
Early donation pledges are needed prior to the telethon to assure acknowledgement during the telethon event. Pledges may be mailed directly to UCP at 507 N. Hook Street, Tuscumbia, AL 35674.
During the telethon, the public will learn more about the children served at the center.
Morgan said her hope is that people will tune in to the telethon and learn more about the program that has improved her daughter’s quality of life.
“It was just so good to know someone out there could teach me how to help my child,” Morgan said. “The services they offer are amazing and the more people who know about them, the better.”
Lisa Singleton-Rickman can be reached at 256-740-5735 or lisa.singleton-rickman@TimesDaily.com.