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Right now, Archer is paralyzed from the top of the chest on down. Each upper school student who was also being inducted into Cum Laude Society, each wearing their kaki pants or skirts and their navy blue school blazers with the Mc Donogh seal, each was also donning another emblem, the small one-inch orange and black button with the words Archer Strong written across. Almost every student from the past year who was on stage as well as the current students receiving the prestigious and hard-earned academic honor, one by one, walked onto the stage with the Archer Strong button on the lapel of their blazer, boys and girls alike. They didn’t have to share it in that way, but they did. It didn’t take anything away; it made for greater celebration of each of them. Kernan was more honest in saying they didn’t do school, they did rehab. Remember about a week or so ago that news report about the experimental stem cell injections for a quadriplegic man? A friend sent me the email address I needed to try and reach the researchers. I gave them a brief overview of Archer’s condition and profile. This is what they were looking for: the perfect profile. There were many malades who had been recommended and they were each being interviewed and assessed that particular weekend at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore. When I arrived passing through the security and up onto the elevator, I slipped into a coatroom, hung up my coat, and stepped out into the hallway. He was brain damaged and partially paralyzed in his legs from a heart attack he had while running a marathon, now age 19, and medical help was not able to get to him for 15 minutes. His screaming, if you will, was the last memory I had as he was discharged and sent to another facility. I told her quickly the barriers and specifically what to demonstrate. He’s really amazing and thought long and hard about these things.
The Senfts believe in miracles and the power of your prayers. I loved each one of those dear young persons so very much in that moment. Shepherd assured me they had had other athletes graduate and that they would help transition him back to his school after he left there. Well, I emailed that doctor so fast since it looked as if Archer might be a good candidate based on the article. Remember last summer when we were angsting about when we could get that pace maker removed? Billy and I were at our house that Saturday in the middle of a meeting with a woman re college financial aid when I felt this really strong pull to go downtown to the Lourdes screening. Whom should I lay eyes on rolling through the entranceway but the boy/young man who had been Archer’s roommate when we first arrived at KKI in-patient. I recall his prognosis was that his speech and eyesight might slowly be restored and I felt hopeful for him. I could feel the unity like two schoolgirls hatching a good plan to do something together. Yes, he remains a top AP student, gifted in math and physics and yes, he had amazing scores on his SAT and yes, he also submitted an art portfolio of his digital work and yes, he’s been working tirelessly on school work with his “one finger” as he calls it, this metal stylus which we carefully attach every morning to a Velcro hand and wrist splint and then wrap both around his arm which he then powers, literally, by moving his bicep and shoulder.
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He pitched forward and his body landed on the TBar that he maneuvers to move the chair, causing the chair to race forward. The board of trustees also awarded him the Character and Influence award. The auditorium packed with students and Mc Donogh parents was hush quiet while Archer stopped the powerchair and then manipulated the T-bar to move his big 500 lb chair on wheels to Mr. The achievement and all it has taken to catch up, stay current and excel draped gently and lovingly around his neck. It is interesting and I tell you, it was like a suspense film week to week figuring it out. They sent a copy of the recommendation letter today. I was blown away when in the letter they said that of all the quadriplegics they have counseled and assisted, they have never seen a person with injuries as complicated as Archer’s and that he is the first they have written a recommendation for. But they stated that they had never known of a quadriplegic injury as medically complicated as Archer’s and that is really what gave me pause. It’s not to say look at him, it’s worse than others. It’s more to say, It was that bad, see what is possible. He wants to live in a dorm and be a regular student. We knew absolutely no one at UPenn before Archer’s acceptance, I know feel I have some real champions and open minded people who are willing to help us chart a good solid course of care for his needs. That just told me that we have a lot of educating to do, so that is what I began.
If you want to make a donation by check, please make payable to Archer Senft Special Needs Trust and send to Archer at 102 Longwood Road, Baltimore MD 21210. This page is dedicated to the progress and recovery of our 17-year-old son, Archer Senft. They are not equipped for what has happened to him. I had already been to Baltimore looking for the local rehab and knew that Archer, who was then 6’1” (now 6’4”) would not fit literally and culturally in a room at KKI where the rooms had two children and a crib. Imagine, his holding a cup with his wrists because he could gauge the surface and the weight. Maybe he could even feed himself a sandwich, or be able to brush the hair out of his eyes, or itch the side of his neck, or adjust his baseball hat. Or help a caregiver thread his arms through his shirt. Or give a hug and feel the warmth of the other person. Oh dear Mother Mary, please wrap your arms around us and guide the doctors and guide us. If you would be so willing, could we all pause a moment now and together think about the possibility of this happening. What more wonderful trip could there be, after all. The trip began with my seeking his acceptance to go last October. She had her son showing us things he could do like hold a stance on his own while holding the back of a chair, moving on his own in a chair, telling me he didn’t have to be in a wheel chair for everything but could tolerate a regular chair for periods of time. I took a very open approach telling them a few times about Archer, his needs, how it rolls and then the list of factors we would be looking for and asking to be included in the decision-making, assuring them that would be better for all. So he was not able to even get onto a sidewalk for some blocks. I’m sure you have something on your mind right now that might be troubling you. Amen Sending love Wednesday, March 15, 2017 Archer Senft Friends and Family Update Wednesday 3-15-17, Month 7, Year 2 Hello dear ones. And it’s also year two for us with you, as I know we have been on this journey together. He will begin in August and we have every intention that he live on campus as a regular student. We can thank another unlikely collaboration we created between Baltimore City Public Schools, Home Schools, On-Line Schools, and our dear Mc Donogh School for all of that.
On August 5, 2015, Archer broke the C5 vertebra in his neck while swimming in Cape May, NJ. He was strong and athletic and that is what they thought. And our other local choice, Kernan, now the University of Maryland seemed cold and remote for what I thought Archer needed. Close your eyes and see yourself using your arms and wrists for something, anything. We tried to figure it out, but there were so many obstacles mainly medical and physical related to related to such lengthy travel, difficulty of weight shifts, what if a bed sore that would scuttle the entire experience for him and takes months to heal, etc. We were not included and I don’t think fully heard in the beginning but we are now and it’s all very good. We managed but it meant my walking in front of Archer in the city street as I extended my arm in front of me to oncoming traffic to stop or make room for the traveler I had behind me. Like an old-fashioned traffic cop kind of scene with the little kids passing while the cop held back traffic with his hand. There’s no invention (yet) for an umbrella for a powerchair or a plastic wrapping of sorts, but when there is, it will be useful. After a lot of calls and talking with Security and the Police and Facilities and Disabilities, we have a decision. The most wonderful part is that everyone now understands so much more and the decision was arrived at after a lot of really good process. Lay your troubles down with a few deep breaths and a prayer that you can rest in God’s presence and forgiveness and love. They put up with me pushing and asking and hoping, and with Archer’s determination, and their care and Mc Donogh’s love, he is totally on track and now into UPenn.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received. No hardware in the body other than the rods in the neck. The only thing that might give us trouble is they are looking for a C5 injury. We would plan to go for the surgery as soon as Archer graduates in June. If selected, it would mean the potential for him to regain his triceps, so he would have the muscle in the back of his arm to move his elbow, which would make Archer very very happy. And, it’s as if a door opened that we hadn’t anticipated at least at this moment. So many people from around the world have been healed, Christians and non-Christians. There is a sense of self in unity with God and with God through others. And a great deal of laughter and conversation and quiet prayer. I smiled over the phone lines, Oh you know all the usual stuff that prevented Archer from going. And also being in close proximity to the School of Engineering was very important. I took him after a snowstorm in March and there were a few streets that were difficult to cross given UPenn are in the middle of Philadelphia. We are in the beginning of seeing the fruits of a beginning collaboration at UPenn.
Click Here for more info about how the donations are processed to help Archer. But you’ve got to get your son the hell out of there. She confirmed what I felt, what I knew but did not know. Archer as you know is very “high injury” as they say, meaning high on the C spine, a/k/a not good, as a C2-C5 burst, but technically he is a C5 as that is where they placed his rods after they reconstructed his neck from the donor (thank you again, dear donor, you donated your hip bone and Archer is the beneficiary). It could also mean a restoration of the sensation in his arms below the elbow to his wrists, which could mean he might be able to grasp items between his two wrists because he could feel them rather than just meet such items now with stiff extension arms and droopy hands. Bruno Lanteri, please intercede for us as we ask for mercy. So, you might be assuming that Archer is going with me. Well, that woman came in with her son like a drill sergeant. We didn’t want to be demanding nor did I want a situation where we were adding things. We really did explore a number of dorms, but either facilities or disabilities had concerns or I had concerns. The curb cuts were still icy in some places but the most typical scenario was that the snow for walkers had been plowed and dumped in the curb cut, the only place someone in a wheelchair can go to get up onto a sidewalk. Can you believe it, already well into a new year and half way into year two for us on this journey with Archer and his quadriplegia. Last fall, Archer was admitted Early Decision into the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania as part of the class of 2021. Stepping back to look at the big picture, it’s a big deal that he is even graduating from high school on time.