Welcome to #CHARLEESTRONG SpotLights! Each month, three mothers/caregivers will be featured here. If you are interested in sharing your story with us, please email your story of 300 (no less than 250) words and a feature image for consideration to . We look forward to hearing from you soon. Also, please share this page with other caregivers that you know!
Our story really began five years ago when Sam's mother passed away at 37 years old from congested heart failure. She left behind five kids. I had them moved from San Diego to live with me in New Orleans, so that my husband and I could help finish raising them. Sam was 15 when she passed away and the youngest was eight. It wasn't an easy task, but we did it. On February 13, 2018, Samuel woke up (as a senior in high school with two full college scholarships for football and one for baseball), yet on that day - which was Mardi Gras here in New Orleans, Sam decided to meet some friends for the truck parades. As he was walking on Union Street, shots rang out in front of him. He heard them and while turning to run, he was struck in the right temple and the bullet traveled to the rear left hemisphere of his brain. It was devastating for us. He went into surgery and was left in a coma. While still unconscious, two days later, he developed a blood clot and needed another emergency brain surgery - this time they told us if he survived, he would be paralyzed on his left side. He woke up two weeks later, slowly coming around. We soon realized that he couldn't talk. His vocal cords were affected and he was paralyzed on his left side. We were told that he wouldn't eat by mouth again, talk, or have any chance of walking again. If we listened and took the words of the doctor at heart, we would have just accepted that prognosis. However, we knew GOD and HIS healing power, so we just kept praying and trusting HIS will for Sam's life. Sam still goes to therapy twice weekly, and has made a lot of great progress. He can eat by mouth. He is talking. He can even walk a little with a cane and without assistance. His left arm is still a bit challenged, but we are still believing GOD for restoration for his arm, as well. Now, here is where I get very transparent and hardcore honest, as a caregiver. In the process of taking care of him, I forgot about taking care of me. Currently, we have full custody of our granddaughter (whom I homeschool). So on top of taking care of Sam and her, while also tending to my home, I take care of my catering and event planning business, "Hattie B's," too. No doubt, 2019 was an eye opener for me, as I kept putting my own health on the back-burner and had to have surgery. I started having some heart issues which was all triggered by stress. My doctor told me that if I didn't take time out for myself, I wouldn't be here to take care of anyone else. So I have started meditating for about 10 to 15 minutes alone. I try to have some quiet time in my room to de-stress (when my day is really busy). Also, when I need to cry or vent, I do that, too. I'm blessed with a loving, sweet husband who just listens when I need an ear. I don't really have much support. My family is small, so I have learned how to make small spaces in my life to help me stay healthy and rejuvenated. Thanks for allowing me to tell a bit of our story. I pray that it blesses or helps someone.
Allieta Butler-Blue & Sam
Katina Whorton & “Tootie" Stanley
August 29, 1992, my life changed. Single mom, high school graduate, special needs mom, afraid, broken, and depressed. Those are the words, which described myself. What I was going to do? How were we going to make it? Here I was signing papers; bombarded with questions. "Tootie" was not breathing when she was born, and would often stop breathing throughout the night. I was very afraid to say the least. Well, it was time for us to be released. Well, only one of us would be released. Tootie had to stay. I was petrified! I was given the number to the nurse’s station. I would call all night to check on Tootie. One nurse informed me that I needed to get plenty of rest, as a new mom - rest was required. Another nurse informed me that we would need to take it day by day to determine if she would live. What was she saying? I had been raised in the church, so I started to pray, and talked to God. She spent 21 days in the hospital; I was required to take a CPR class before bringing my bundle of joy home. Lord knows, I prayed I never had to use what I had learned in my CPR class. Thank God, I've never used it! However, we had therapy, doctor’s visits, and more appointments that I could keep up with. James 5:16 tells us, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." Tootie is now 27 years old! She is well traveled, loves to cruise, a part of pageantry, loves music and dancing, enjoys shopping for her next “blinged out” outfit and has received her high school completion certificate. I am married, college graduate, college professor, special needs mom, bold in my faith, not easily broken, and excited about life! Look at God!
Jada was born at six months as a twin. She was 1lb and 11oz and had a brain hemorrhage at birth. As a new parent, I was scared out of my mind. As time went by, my husband and I were told by the doctor that Jada was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. I didn't know what to do and I cried because I thought that it was my fault that she was born early. I thought that I ate the wrong food or thought that I worked too hard - I mean all kind of things were going through my mind. I was a young mom with premature twins on top of that (one twin born with cerebral palsy). The doctors told me that Jada was going to have a delay in life and stated that she will not be able to do a lot of things that others kids were able to do. This was my child, and I knew that I had to get out of my feelings and stop allowing the devil to put bad thoughts in my head. All I could do was call out to JESUS. I cried out to the Lord and told him that we needed help because I did not know what to do. I had to speak God's Word and pray for my child and family. I knew that God would not give us more than we could bear, so I had no choice but to trust Him. When the doctor said that Jada was not able, God said different. Although Jada is confound to a wheelchair, weak on the right side of her body, and has a slight delay - we still push her and let her know that she can do all things. Jada is now in college working on her Bachelor's degree and she has also written her first inspirational book. My husband and I are truly blessed to have her in our lives. We thank God for the support of our family and we give all glory to God.
Danielle Weadd & Jada Weadd
Shaney Washington & Payton Charlize Washington
Shaney Washington is mom to Payton Charlize Washington. Payton has Holoprosencephaly (HPE) and it’s basically where the two halves of her brain did not fully separate into 2 hemispheres. We relied heavily on her doctors in the beginning. I felt like my love was strong for our daughter, but didn’t know how to apply it. This was unchartered territory that I did not think I would ever be in. Yet, with some time, my mindset changed. I went from asking questions from a scared place to really taking charge and asking from a place of “I need to be educated to make informed decisions on my own.” I started establishing a schedule and after awhile, Payton had her own calendar of events and appointments. One thing that solidified that feeling for me was getting to speak to other parents that had Payton’s disability. I knew that they understood where I was mentally. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding a special needs support circle. I apply one rule to our lives daily, "Take it One Day at a Time". This is the only way I can get through the day sometimes and just hug my daughter a little tighter, while praying that tomorrow will be better. Our journey has become bigger than our little family. My husband and I are a great team when it comes to loving our daughter and managing her symptoms. We get tired and frustrated sometimes, but it's all a part of this amazing ride. This kid makes us better parents and better overall people every day.