Meet the Archuleta’s. I know what you are thinking, and the answer is no. They are not related to the Utah-born, American pop singer David Archuleta. This family of five does have an appreciation for music, however. They carry a name of fame, not by blood, but by love. Grandpa Archuleta had a great appreciation for the Isley Brothers music group. He gave his son the middle name Isley, and now the eldest child of the Archuleta’s carries it as his first name.
Isley James Archuleta, 8-year-old second-grader, is full of life. He is son to Bobby and Danielle, older brother to 3-year-old Keaton and 6-week-old sister Ellie. Isley lives with a hindered cognitive ability and is unable to walk, due to Cerebral Palsy.
Upon meeting him, though pale and skinny, his playful and teasing spirit will be known within the first five minutes. In the family room, he will hand you his truck “Mac,” with a shy face turned down, a huge hidden grin, and eyes that are looking up at you from their corners to watch for your response. You realize he is playing with you right away. Playing is what he loves to do. When he was just three years old, his dad Bobby caught him dancing and singing along to his silly beat boxing. Bobby still laughs at the fond, vivid memory.
Playfulness a big part of Isley’s spirit, but his determinedness is a shining factor of who he is. He uses his walker around the house, but when he is without it, he still finds a way to attain his goal. Danielle explained how he scoots on the floor all the way across the house to get something little, if it is set in his mind to do so. “The other day he wanted to put the hangers from his sister’s room into the laundry basket that was in the laundry room. He dragged the laundry basket all the way into the family room and then went back for the hangers that were lying on the floor. This was a big feat. His stubbornness is a good thing,” she explained while chuckling, still amazed at the victorious endeavor. “He gets his strong will from his mother,” Bobby replied, with a genuinely grateful smile at his wife.
Yes, it is very likely Isley has learned some of his determinedness from his parents. Bobby and Danielle have been fighting their odds well. Danielle gave birth to Isley six weeks early. This made for six weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). He was born with a diagnosis of Gastroschisis, where the intestines are outside the body. Emergency surgery took place, but all went well and the six weeks in the NICU went smoothly. The Archuleta’s were finally able to take Isley home to Taylorsville. Little did they know they would be returning to the hospital in just two short weeks, with a deathly case of their newborn.
Isley had developed an intense bacterial infection, so severe that the doctors had little hope for his survival. At this point, his future was bleak. This case was so severe that Isley had been assigned a nurse to be at his side 24 hours every day. This infection had gone “septic,” meaning it was in his blood. Because it had reached his spinal cord, damage was caused. This resulted in Cerebral Palsy.
At the hospital Bobby and Danielle camped in the parking lot via motorhome. Because Isley was hooked up to so many machines and contraptions, including a respirator and dialysis, there was no room for Bobby or Danielle to stay in the room with him, not even room for a chair. Though every moment dragged on, a day feeling like a year, not knowing what the next breath might bring, Bobby and Danielle were able to hold on for dear life. These rollercoaster months at the hospital finally came to an end, however.
Bobby and Danielle were able to bring their 5-months-old son home once again, this time with a completely new diagnosis. Geared with his equipment, a very hard-working life began for him and his parents. What had been the work required for one child now multiplied. “Taking care of one child with special needs is equivalent to taking care of three children,” Danielle explained.
They have found ways to help their son in any way they can medically. When he got a bit older, the pair researched and sought the best care for him, which included treatment in the Dominican Republic. To be able to send Isley on this trip and receive the medical procedure, Danielle and Bobby organized a concert, silent auction, and raffled off a four-wheeler in fundraising efforts. It was while Danielle was recently pregnant and on bed-rest that she pursued the hunt for a ramp installation. Both she and Bobby team together, making sure Isley takes his medication morning and night.
They have also supplied their son’s emotional needs. When Isley was big enough to ride a bike, Danielle innovated one he would be able to ride. His father explained how difficult it is to take him to the park. “Many times I feel helpless when seeing him watch the other kids play. I take him up to the slide and ride down with him. He is getting bigger but I am determined to give him the most I can.” Danielle piped in on her husband’s effort with their son. “We took a hike over the summer and Bobby hoisted Isley onto his shoulders all the way up to Donut Falls. Isley loved it. We do our best to not let his disability keep us from doing normal activities,” she said.
The Archuleta family doesn’t let this disability become their obstacle. They find a way to make their goals happen. Bobby says, “Every day is a new beginning. Take each day as it comes. Don’t let anything hold you back.” Perhaps the attributed “Isley” name passed down from Grandpa Archuleta somehow inspires the rhythm this family is marching to, with the life-song they are writing. Perhaps it is their determination and positively stubborn mindset. Nice to meet you, Archuleta’s.