PRESTONSBURG – This week Floyd County Judge Executive Ben Hale declared February, Cerebral Palsy month as organizers get ready for the 2nd Annual Cerebral Palsy night at Prestonsburg High School.
Judge Executive Ben Hale met with organizer Kim Burchett on Monday at the Floyd County Courthouse to make the declaration. After last years declaration, Burchett organized an event to help raise money and awareness for Cerebral Palsy research. After tremendous success the first year, the event has grown.
The Second Annual Cerebral Palsy Awareness Basketball Game will take place Wednesday February 3, 2015 beginning at 6:00 p.m. with the girls game. Burchett’s oldest daughter, Nicole, is a member of the PHS girls team.
Burchett says that the plans call for raffles and giveaways, and presentations by a number of speakers including Mayor Les Stapleton and Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo.
Last years event raised $2,272, and Burchett says she hopes this year they will raise more than $3000. “We have set bigger higher goals. Widened the event. The community has shown such an outpouring of support.”
Organizers will be selling raffle tickets during the game and running a concession stand, with all proceeds being donated to national cerebral palsy group.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is an umbrella term which relates to a host of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move due to damage of the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth.
CP affects people in different ways and can affect body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. Although CP is a permanent life-long condition, some disorders associated with CP can improve or worsen over time.
People who have CP may also suffer from visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy and intellectual impairments.
The issue is intensely personal for Burchett, whose youngest, 10-year-old daughter Livia, suffers from the most severe form of cerebral palsy. Burchett says that when her daughter was born, she did not begin breathing on her own right away, and that the loss of oxygen resulted in a crippling hemorrhage of the brain leaving her with only 10 percent of her brain undamaged.
Burchett says her daughters brain did not hemorrhage until two days after her birth. “Doctors have no answer for why she did not cross over to room air when they cut the umbilical cord,” said Burchett “There was no answer for it. I accepted it as it was in God’s plan.”
Burchett says that annual basketball game is a way to shine a light on the very real struggle that parents of children with CP face and one that is experience by a number of families in the region.
Burchett says that Adam Williamson, who lives with CP, has been a tremendous help to the organization. Williamson, of Prestonsburg, is a teacher at the David School and performs music regularly around the region with his own band, and with the Billie Jean’s Kentucky Opry.
“As a care giver I love Adam dearly because he gets to speak for it, because he’s living it. He can tell you how it is with him, because he endures it,” said Burchett.
According to Burchett, Williamson and her daughter highlight the broad spectrum of CP. “It’s at all different levels. Adam is teaching at David, but he has CP. Livia, she will never be able to have that type of independence.”
Burchett says that, sadly, there is nothing in the community to offer support or aid to parents working with children with CP, and that was one of the issues which spurned her to action. “When I do this, I don’t just do it for mine. I advocate for every child with CP. Because I know how that individual feels, and I especially know how the caregiver feels. I can relate 110 percent.”
Burchett says that part of the event is to honor the parents of children who lost the battle with CP to let them know they are not forgotten.
“We’re still fighting the battle with CP. Better treatment, Better medicine, better equipment,” said Burchett. “What we all pray for, a cure.”
Burchett says that spectators are encouraged to wear green in support of CP, and that they will be giving away a fan award to whichever high school fans come in the most green; camouflage excluded.
Fans who attend the game can donate without purchasing raffle tickets, or can go online to donate at www.ucp.org.
Follow on Twitter @JacksonLatta