Big Summer Event! Proud to be a sponsor for the “Style Your Sole” event! We are sponsoring the purchase of the shoes, allowing those of you who sign up to get them at a discounted price. First to sign up get to come and Style their own Sole, courtesy of TOMS. Get creative and help children in need! Customize your new pair of blank TOMS! Register by June 16 here: Just click the RED Register and sign up for the Pre-Event. (http://bit.ly/iLsxt3) Thanks to TOMS, Focus, and Catalyst for allowing us to be a part of helping families in the California area and children around the world!!
Archive for May, 2011
A few weeks ago, we did our first RAIN project in Utah (Renewing and Inspiring Neighborhoods). Through making the outside of the home look new again, we hope to help improve the lives of everyone living inside and in the neighborhood, encouraging them to work on their own homes. Thanks to the volunteers to the left, it was a huge success.
We are still working on getting Final Shots, to show the Before and After of the home, but here are some pictures taken of our amazing group of volunteers, hard at work.
From big to small, everyone helped out. A special thanks to the little ones, who decorated helmets and did a little debris removal.
This Utah family claims its roots in Chicago. At least husband and father of the family, Rick Olivares, does. Both he and his wife Kendra moved to Utah at 9 years old, ironically. They met as co-workers 11 years later and have been together ever since.
Rick and Kendra started their family as young parents—Rick, 20, and Kendra, 18. It wasn’t until two months after giving birth to their firstborn Cameron, that they received some speculative news at the doctor’s office.
At Cameron’s routine check-up, the doctor wanted to run an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) since Cameron’s head seemed abnormally large. Two days later, the Olivares’ were told that their son was suffering from hydrocephalus – an accumulation of serous fluid within the cranium due to obstruction of the movement of cerebrospinal fluid—the cause of Cameron’s enlarged head.
In basic terms, every person has two “drains” in his or her spine which allow any cranial fluid to flow through. When the drains are clogged, as Cameron’s were, the head swells with fluid.
“The water was squishing his brain down like a sponge,” Rick said.
When the shunt was placed through surgical procedure, some of the pressure was relieved and the brain was able to expand again. A year later, the second shunt was placed. The initial brain damage that was caused, however, resulted in lifelong diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy.
After staying home with Cameron for his first six months, Kendra went back to work. She and Rick worked alternate shifts for 12 years. Their hard work, which realistically also meant sacrificed time in their marriage, has been an essential component to provide Cameron the best care.
Over the years, the family has worked extremely hard to keep Cameron healthy. He is now 18 years old, and has received multiple surgeries. These have included three surgeries on his hips and tendon extensions in his arms, legs, and feet. He’s had a GJ-tube installed, a shunt revision, and just recently had a Baclofen pump put in.
Cameron is able to see, but the Olivares don’t know how well, nor do they know exactly how he interprets what he sees.
“We try to stay on top of what is going on with him medically. If its not one thing, it’s something else. We can get one thing taken care of and then he’ll receive another diagnosis of some sort. Medically there are ongoing struggles that we expect to have for as long as he is around,” Kendra said.
The Olivares’ shared the challenges about how Cameron’s requirements alter the state of the family.
“The challenge is keeping things normal for the other kids too and not depriving them of other experiences and activities. At the same time we have no other choice but to do just that since Cameron will not tolerate all situations,” Kendra said. “It’s a challenge when the other two kids have to be ok that we, the parents, aren’t at all of their functions. We always say, ‘it’d be great to do this, it’d be great to do that’ when thinking about normal family vacations, but we are limited.”
Just two years ago, the Olivares’ were able to take their first real family vacation. They traveled to Hawaii, but they had to make the tough decision of leaving Cameron behind with his uncle. It was conflicting for them, as Cameron is a huge part of the family. In some ways, it didn’t seem right.
“He is central to our family, the nucleus, the glue that bonds us all. It was a big decision for us to leave him. We’d call every morning and night, and send text messages all day to know what was going on,” Rick said. “On this trip though, we were able have experiences that we had never had before. It was our first time really hiking together. We know the other two kids will always look back on that trip and remember it with fondness,” Rick said.
“It’s ok. I had a locket with Cameron’s picture in it that I wore every day. He was still with us,” said Kendra, with an endearing smile.
Cameron is the main concern in the Olivares’ household. “He’s so big, we can’t rely on anyone else to take care of him, to pick him up or move him around. As he is getting older, it’s getting tougher. Hardly anyone else can watch him, including his grandma, because he has gotten too heavy—100 pounds,” Kendra explained.
The ramp will enable Cameron to get in and out of the house much more easily, which will in turn help everyone.
Cameron’s family is focused on him, but his main focus is his passion: music.
“If he is in a bad mood, a really bad mood, we will put on Garth Brooks to cheer him up, especially the ‘No Fences’ album. It’s his favorite. As soon as ‘The Thunder Rolls’ comes on he lights up like a Christmas tree,” Rick said.
“He could be screaming or crying, so mad, and you turn that song on, and within two seconds he is laughing and happy,” Kendra said.
Overall, working around Cameron’s needs has been an effort for the whole family.
“When the siblings were younger they would be in and out of school with Cameron’s frequent hospital visits,” Kendra said.
Another type of visit, one that they hope to take someday, is a trip to meet Garth Brooks. Until then, their “thunder rolls” in Utah.
The room is in progress, thanks to dozens of volunteers, donations of materials from some incredible individuals and businesses, a little hard work, and your support of Seer. Friday and Saturday we worked on the walls, we just moved in some furniture, and will be making the room aesthetically pleasing next. The finishing touch, computers, are happening because of the Luol Deng Foundation. Pretty cool having a bunch of professional athletes teaming up to help out their community. Special thanks to our friend Randy for the photos.
Renewing and Inspiring Neighborhoods. This Saturday, Seer Group and friends are kicking off the start of our newest program, which is home and neighborhood rejuvenation. The idea behind RAIN is a simple one: that improving the outside look of a community can spark an inward change. We are excited to work on our first home, and couldn’t ask for better people to be working with us. Lots of pictures and stories to come. We loved our time in Utah, and will continue to work and serve the community that was so kind to us.