15:11 PM

ATI Foundation's East Gala a Huge Success

On May 19, The ATI Foundation hosted their second annual East Gala in Wilmington, DE. The event, tabbed as 'A Night at the Races' was a huge success thanks to presenting sponsor Lucy Malmberg, the 250 guests in attendance, sponsors, our partnering organizations, and all of the ATI Foundation team members and volunteers who planned and executed the event.

In total, $116,000 was generated through sponsorships, ticket sales, live auctions, silent auctions, and various games and activities throughout the evening. The highlight of the night, aside from the Preakness Stakes being streamed live and the guests participating in simulated horse race betting after dinner, was the presentation to the beneficiaries and their families.

Jack and Maya, age 8

We met Jack and Maya through our relationship with Camp Open Arms. The eight-year-olds are both patients of pediatric orthopedic specialist Dr. Joshua Abzug, who specializes in limb differences at the University of Maryland. The two share the same disorder known as symbrachydactyly, a congenital abnormality which is characterized by limb anomalies.

Maya’s right hand has a very small palm with only nubs. Jack’s left hand has a thumb and pinky with three small nubs in between. His left wrist and hand are slightly smaller than his right, and his arm is slightly shorter.

Both Maya and Jack are very active! They go about daily activities differently, but always figure out a way. One of their favorite successes is completing the ropes course at Camp Open Arms every summer!

Despite their amazing abilities to adapt, both kids have struggled with one challenge in particular—finding a way to safely ride a bike. We reached out to Deb at Preston’s March for Energy (PME), a long-standing partner of the ATI Foundation. After speaking with the kids’ mothers, they realized that while PME usually adapts the bike to the child, this time they needed to find a way to adapt the child to the bike.

Deb’s friend John Horne, President of Independence Prosthetics-Orthotics, Inc., was up to the challenge, and facilitated a relationship with University of Delaware’s (UD) biomedical engineering students, Andrew and Claire, who had a start-up company called Empowered Technologies, dealing with prosthetics.

Meanwhile, Donna Svinis and Daryl Ballough from the Media Providence Friends School in Media, PA, were looking for a project for their middle school students STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) project. Donna had a connection with the UD Mechanical Engineering Department, which led her to John Horne as well. These two worlds merged perfectly.

The prosthetics were designed using the e-NABLE online community, printed on 3D printers and assembled by the Media Providence Friends School’s 5th-8th grade middle school students. Two senior engineering students, Andrew and Claire, were able to fit the prosthetics to meet Jack and Maya’s needs.

The last piece of the puzzle is that the two-wheeled bikes were slightly adapted by a local bike shop to allow for safe shifting and braking for each child’s dominant hand.

This collaboration involved so many caring and talented individuals who coordinated their efforts to make a difference in the lives of Maya and Jack. We have so much appreciation for everyone who contributed to this amazing project!

Lamar, age 9

Until last year, Lamar was an active, healthy boy. During the summer, following a sports injury, he was being treated at the ATI Physical Therapy clinic in S. Dover by Amanda Hanna.

He was referred for a neck condition called torticollis. After two months of treatment, there was some improvement, but he wasn’t making a lot of progress overall. When doctors advised continuation of therapy, Amanda continued working with him to improve the range of motion and strength in his neck. One day, about an hour after he didn’t arrive for an appointment, his mother called to deliver some bad news.

Lamar was having trouble walking and using his arm, so she brought him to the hospital. They were then transported to Nemours AI DuPont Hospital for Children. He was diagnosed with Pilocytic Astrocytoma and was scheduled for surgery the following day.

Lamar underwent a six-hour surgery on his spinal cord. Three days later, he went into emergency brain surgery to decompress a very large cyst on his brain stem. He spent 81 days in the hospital—including 18 days on a ventilator— and participates in rehabilitation five days a week. Despite all of this, he completed his school work during his hospital stay. Incredibly, Lamar has recently returned to school two days a week, and is excelling in all of his classes.

At this time, he does not have the ability to walk and utilizes a wheelchair for most of his mobility. He requires the use of custom braces and a walker to allow him to walk short distances, and it’s unknown how long it will be before he will walk again without assistive devices. Nevertheless, Lamar is determined and makes progress every day with a big smile on his face!

Lamar, his mother and great-grandmother are currently staying at the Ronald McDonald House so he can undergo intensive therapy at AI DuPont. His mother’s commute to work is two hours each way. Insurance coverage for his wheelchair, custom braces and shower chair is still pending. Knowing how Lamar’s mother has been doing everything in her power to be there for Lamar and meet the financial demands of the situation, Amanda nominated Lamar as a beneficiary of the Foundation to provide some assistance during this difficult time.

The Foundation also completed our sponsorship to Camp Open Arms, providing assistance for more children with limb differences to be able to attend camp this year. A special thanks to them and to Preston’s March for Energy for working with us to make this all possible for our beneficiaries!