Finding Our Magic By Shellie Mertes

Jayden photoThere is never a time when I’ve watched a magic show that I didn’t see the awe of amazement in the faces of the audience.  The smiles that lit up the faces of children when a trick was performed.  How excited we got when a magician asked for assistance from the audience.  We all quickly jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this spectacular phenomena.

During the last four years, I’ve had the honor of watching a bit of magic even with no magician present.  At age three Jayden experienced a non- accidental cervical spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and bilateral arm fractures including a broken growth plate. Because of the level of injury, Jayden is very weak, and it is one of many reasons he is unable to independently dress himself.  However, each day we see Jayden rise above the inevitable uncertainties associated with it.

Our own personal show began through adoption. It had always been a dream of mine to adopt a child with special needs, given my own experience growing up with many adopted special needs siblings.

There were so many children seeking that magical forever family.  It was heart wrenching looking through profiles.  Then a picture of a little boy with sad eyes pulled at my heart.  I just knew he was the child I was going to share magical moments with forever. For the first few years of his life, Jayden lived in darkness, trying to overcome what life had dealt him.  As a little boy he didn’t have the love or nurturing many of us take for granted. Because of trust issues, Jayden was initially told that I was a friend coming to meet him. But, as I knelt down beside him and took his hand in mine, I whispered “You are a special boy and I would like to be your friend.”  His eyes lit with that spark of magic and a smile grew wide on his little face. I knew this was the son I would be calling mine.

Jayden pretend playOur days were subsequently spent “pretending” to be superheroes and making things disappear, playing hide and seek, and most importantly becoming friends. The following day I asked Jayden if I could be his mom.  He replied immediately and stated, “You are my mom.”  My heart melted.  MAGIC! Then the process to transfer him began… the waiting began which felt like an eternity. Finally, on June 23rd 2013, I knocked on the door of the medical facility to pick up my son and bring him home. This was the most magical moment as the door opened and he was sitting there with his stuff ready and the most precious smile! His words were, “Come on mom, let’s go to Chicago. I want to go home.” Shortly, thereafter, we became a family determined to find the magic that each day holds.

At first, Jayden was unable to sit on his own, stand alone, walk, or eat on his own. In order for him to get around our home he rolled or scooted on his bottom.  However, in less than three months he was eating by mouth, sitting up on his own and interested in learning to walk.

To my delight, these days Jayden defies limits, pushing boundaries each day.  He reaches into his magic hat and finds just the right spell to push just a little bit harder to achieve a new milestone.  He has gone from dependency on a feeding tube to eating three meals a day and plenty of snacks! He has increased his independent mobility from full time wheelchair user to independent walker.  Jayden recently defied the specialist’s expectations and recovered from an extensive surgery to correct his humerus which had grown crooked from an old untreated break. I am convinced that magic flows from this boy and I am in awe each day watching.

The day I saw an advertisement for Runway of Dreams adaptive clothing I knew I had fallen upon a bit of magic that I could offer to Jayden. He was struggling with wanting to be more
independent and desperately wanted a pair of pants he didn’t need help with if he had to use the bathroom at school.  Jayden didn’t just want another pair of pull on sweats, he wanted “cool” jeans.  He had become quite the male fashionista.

As his birthday was approaching, I decided to purchase an adaptive pair of jeans and a dress shirt, each with the magnetic button strip and Velcro closures.  The package arrived early, and like that magician, I was too eager to pull out my bag of tricks and try them out.  Jayden excitedly tore into the box, and then, with an apprehensive look on his face, asked “what do I do with these?’  I assured him there was Magic in these clothes.

After needing a bit of help to slip his arms in the dress shirt, I told Jayden to “button” his shirt.  Again, he looked at me like I had 2 two heads stating, “Really, how do you expect me to do that?’ Jayden outfit “Just try,” I replied. Jayden reached for the “buttons” and quickly realized the Magic was the strip of magnets that was easily manipulated to close the shirt on his own.  His smile grew as he exclaimed, “AWESOME!”

Each piece of clothing Jayden has received has been another piece of Magic.  He is eager to find out where the magic is hidden that allows him to pull a shirt down over his head, adjust his leg braces under the pant legs,  open or close the shirt sleeve on his wrist to accommodate his hand splint, and most of all use the bathroom more independently!

Jayden and ShellieThe Runway of Dreams adaptive line is not only magic in how it has increased Jayden’s independence in dressing, it is magic in how it makes him feel more confident, stylish, and “cool!”  As he stated in one word – Runway of Dreams is AWESOME!  And fortunately for our family, this particular magic is not a trick—it has become our reality.






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