Monday, February 17, 2014

Grateful Hearts 2/16/14

We have so many blessings to be grateful for. Among our most treasured blessings are the love and faith of familiy and friends. In the darkest uncertain hours and throughout the long arduous  stretches, our family and friends have surrounded Forrest with love and never let us lose hope.  Their thoughtfulness and generosity brightens Forrest's hardest days and helps us focus beyond today's troubles to envision endless joyful possibilities.

My amazing sisters, Tricia & Lobie, never fail to lift my spirits with their enthusiasm and encouragement.  

A surprise visit from Hill teacher, Debbie Sharples, this week brought fond memories to Forrest and joy and laughter to BrightWood.  

With a grateful heart for family & friends,

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Hero

Forrest is currently taking English 12 and has been learning about Epic Heroes.  These heroes  are described as having many characteristics…They have strength and courage.  They have a guide or a sidekick.  They face demons, monsters and darkness.  They are people of action.  They accept challenges.  They achieve their goals.  Beowulf, Gilgamesh, Achilles, Odysseus....and of course, Forrest Stone Allen.

Here is a little update on our Epic Hero.

A big challenge for Forrest right now is fighting serious iron deficiency anemia from the multiple surgeries, infections and hospital stays.  This can cause a variety of symptoms, but the big one for Forrest is fatigue.  He is taking an iron supplement and has had weekly blood draws to monitor for any issues.  He still has the PICC line, although we are hoping it comes out this week (fingers crossed!).   We are trying to get his weight up as his appetite is low and the pounds have been dropping – finding creative ways to get extra calories, iron and protein into his daily meals is a unique challenge for chef Pops.  Forrest is also working on improving the clarity and volume of his speech - an area that is noticeably affected by the fatigue he battles each day.  He continues with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy five days a week, Physical Therapy, Music Therapy and has now added Movement Therapy!  In Music Therapy he has been busy writing a series of new songs about his journey and shows off some sweet dance moves and vocalization in Movement Therapy.  As mentioned before, he is taking English 12 (currently at home with support from Fauquier County School staff) and every week has multiple vocabulary terms to learn in addition to reading and writing assignments.

The Same Sky Project made a return appearance last month, visiting three schools in one week.  For those of you that have not had the opportunity to attend a Same Sky performance, Forrest delivers a monologue where he tells his story and at one point mentions how a lot of people thought he would never walk or talk or sing again.  After delivering that line, he is supposed to stand up to finish his speech and then sing “The Impossible Dream”.  At the performance at Foxcroft School, Forrest did not stand during the monologue and he did not stand during his song.  We all looked at each other and thought maybe he was too tired and just decided to stay in his wheelchair.  Then, at the very end of his song, while people were applauding, Forrest stood up, stepped forward and bowed.  The crowd erupted.  It was a truly special moment - one that showed Forrest’s spirit and the smile on his face was as if he said “I may not always do something the way others want or expect, but that’s ok, because when I do it, it will be better than you ever imagined”.  It is a moment that I don’t think anyone will forget.  Later that week, Forrest and the other performers went to two Loudoun County schools and presented the project to around 800 seventh graders.  It was so amazing to look out into the audience and see every face glued to what was happening on stage.  The students were visibly touched by the stories and encouragement to look beyond labels and to celebrate differences.  It was an exhausting day for Forrest, but he powered through the fatigue to stand up to deliver his lines, monologue and songs with strength and courage…just like the hero he is. 

Thank you all for the continued encouragement for Forrest on his journey.
- Team 44

The cast of "Behind the Label" - part of the Same Sky Project

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