My first recollection of United Ability (then United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham) was decades ago through the annual telethon. I recall the jingle going something like, “Look at us, we’re walking. Look at us, we’re talking.” These powerful words were a testament to the HOPE and MIRACLES happening for individuals and families impacted by United Ability. Little did I know then how true these words would ring with me in the years to come.
When my great-niece, Caroline, was born, our family’s world went into a tailspin. As her mother Meredith shared, the doctors said her “brain was a wreck” and Caroline (yes, my namesake) would likely never walk or talk. In true fashion, Meredith & Jonathan furiously began researching and seeking out every possible resource to help both Caroline and our family navigate unchartered territory. Caroline had two older siblings who also were learning about how to interact with and care for a baby living with a disability.
Meredith discovered United Ability and forged an immediate relationship – a bond – that is as strong today as it was on day one. Enrolling Caroline in the renowned Hand In Hand (HIH) Early Learning program and having access to all therapy disciplines was going to get expensive. Fortunately, Meredith had the moral and financial support of her family and knew the HIH environment was the best and only option for her daughter with many special needs.
Today, I can see in Caroline how God works miracles. The initial prognosis was bleak; yet, the United Ability team worked tirelessly with Caroline, who underwent numerous surgeries, helping her walk and introducing her to a communication device. United Ability helped Caroline build an amazing foundation and cheered her on as the therapists and Dr. Charlie Law lovingly pushed Caroline beyond her alleged boundaries.
For Caroline, living with disability has never looked “different.” At Hand In Hand, she was surrounded by peers who simply learned and played with her as they did with every other classmate living with or without a disability.
After my husband’s death, it came time to revise my Will. As a minimalist, there is nothing in this life that I truly need. I believe that if someone is blessed and has been provided for, the right thing to do is to share those blessings with others. As I thought about Caroline, I wondered about all the other children whose families do not have the support or resources needed to help the miracles inside each of them happen.
This is when I decided to create the Caroline Hornsby Endowment Fund at United Ability. The Fund is dedicated to helping any child who can benefit from United Ability services, including Early Learning and healthcare access, but cannot afford it. Insurance runs out quickly when you have a child who needs regular speech, occupational, and physical therapy in addition to a full-time early learning program.
With Caroline about to start First Grade and still connected to United Ability’s Clinic and Outpatient Therapy programs, I can honestly say that United Ability is the tool that God used to help her become the very best that she can be. Given the opportunity to help other families gain access to this life-changing agency, I knew this was the legacy I wanted to create; and, I am humbled to have done so in my sweet Caroline’s name.
To learn how you can create a legacy that perpetuates your values, provides for your loved ones, and safeguards the future of United Ability, contact Alison Berman, Chief Development Officer, at 205.944.3907.