By: Amanda Rumore
March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness month and the 25th of March is National Cerebral Palsy Day, so we wanted to take a closer look at this disease and how it affects our community.
What is Cerebral Palsy (CP)?
According to the Mayo Clinic, Cerebral Palsy is a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture that is caused by an insult to the immature, developing brain, most often before birth. Signs and symptoms appear during infancy or preschool years. In general, cerebral palsy causes impaired movement associated with exaggerated reflexes, floppiness or rigidity of the limbs and trunk, abnormal posture, involuntary movements, unsteadiness of walking, or some combination of these.
Six year-old Gabe Almonte lives in Anthem with his mom, dad and four year-old brother, Nicholas. Gabe is a fun-loving kindergarten student, enjoys adventures and he is also living with Cerebral Palsy. The Almonte family moved to the Phoenix-area specifically because of the renowned healthcare options for Gabe. Prior, they lived in Vermont and traveled extensively to Boston for Gabe’s medical care. Vermont was not equipped to facilitate the necessary treatment, so the Almonte’s left their home, family and friends and moved to Anthem.
Gabe’s Medical Journey
“Gabe’s life has been full of therapy since the day he left the hospital, including physical, occupational, feeding and speech therapy,” says Gabe’s mom, Janie Almonte. “He has tried HIPPO (on a horse), aquatic, and dolphin therapy as well, but those treatments are too expensive for constant use.” Gabe has also been under anesthesia twelve times for rounds of botox injections into his leg muscles, a spinal surgery called selective dorsal rhizotomy and his most recent tendon lengthening surgery. At this time, he is seeing five specialists at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, who will follow him as he grows and that is usually every three months. “Our goal at the moment is to get Gabe stem cells with his doctor in California this summer followed by two months of hyperbaric oxygen therapy,” says Janie.
“Gabe is the happiest kid that you would ever meet despite his challenges,” explains Janie. “His determination and ability to stay positive no matter what he is facing is incredible.” He also impacted his family to grow stronger and become closer than ever. “We don’t stress the small stuff anymore and don’t take anything for granted,” says Janie. “He is an amazing little boy who loves life and is now learning about his disability. He doesn’t want kids to be afraid of him because of his braces that he wears on his legs and canes. He’s now learning to explain it to people.”
Janie sums it up, “Through our journey my passion has become to start a non-profit to help other special needs children with rehabilitation and equipment but for now Gabe’s medical needs and taking care of Nick is my priority.”
For more information and to see more about Gabe’s fight, visit his Facebook page Fighter Gabe.
Amanda Rumore is a freelance writer and founder of Valley Gal, Inc. Originally from Chicago, she has worked throughout the U.S. in marketing and public relations and now resides in North Phoenix with her husband and baby girl Mia. Amanda loves her two Boston Terriers, enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family and friends.