Kellie Burkhart is not that different than most mothers. She gushes when talking about her son and believes he’s the greatest gift in the world.
The difference is that her son has cerebral palsy. He was diagnosed when he was 4 years old.
“I didn’t see it. When doctors gave me the diagnosis it was surreal. It was a day I will never forget,” Kellie Burkhart said.
Andrew Burkhart is now 10 years old. He loves Pokémon and Captain America and has learned to play the piano.
“He just loves life and loves people,” said Kellie Burkhart.
The past six years have been an emotional and financial challenge for the family. Andrew has needed and still needs extensive therapy. He works regularly with therapists to help his speech and motor skills.
The therapy is not cheap and insurance only covers a small portion of the care Andrew requires.
“My husband must pay for all of these on a teacher’s salary,” said Kellie Burkhart.
The family has reached out to the community for donations to help offset the cost but their need is ongoing. Several family and friends pitched in, but Kellie doesn’t feel comfortable continuing to ask for money from the same group of people who have given in the past.
The most expensive of all the care Andrew receives is stem cell treatments.
“The first time he received it, it was like God’s hand touched him,” said Kellie Burkhart.
Almost instantly Kellie noticed a difference in her son.
The treatments -- at $13,000 -- are in addition to the roughly $900 they pay each month for other medical expenses. Andrew has gone to California for the stem cell treatments almost every summer for the past six years.
Faced with the possibility of not being able to go this last time because the family couldn’t afford it, Kellie sent a letter to 100 local businesses asking for any sort of help. She asked if they wanted to join “Andrew's Team” to help support his medical needs.
Unfortunately, her letter didn’t seem to make an impact with the companies she sent it to.
“I only heard back from one place,” said Kellie Burkhart.
Erik Bryan from Precision Air and Heating read the letter and decided to help.
“Immediately being a grandfather I felt inclined to help,” said Bryan.
The next day he had an assistant reach out to Kellie.
“She said Erik would like to donate that,” said Kellie Burkhart.
It took a moment for Kellie to realize Erik Bryan wanted to donate all $13,000.
“I cried a lot and thanked Jesus,” said Kellie Burkhart.
Erik and Andrew have since met and become good friends. Erik continues to help the family but the need is ongoing.
If you could or would like to help Andrew you can go to the family's blog.
The Cerebral Palsy Hope Foundation will accept specific donations for Andrew.