Gray child exceeding expectations

R. J. Morelock, the Gray child with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative genetic disease that has had him on a respirator since he was 2 months old, recently celebrated his second birthday, outliving doctors’ expectations by more than a year.

A large crowd of friends and family turned out for his June 7 birthday celebration at Gray United Methodist Church and presented him with gifts, including a special swing designed and built just for him.

Since our last Good Neighbor update on R.J., he’s been making the most of his limited mobility to express himself musically on a small electronic keyboard, tapping his way through early learning games on an iPad awarded to him by the Gwendlyn Strong Foundation, and mastering other educational toys in preparation for his for next huge step.

That step is a My Tobii eye-gazer computer that will speak for R.J. and allow him to verbally communicate and engage with the world around him is nearing his reach.

Demonstrating the intelligence that those who know R.J. best have always vouched for, R.J.’s lead therapist and a representative from the company that makes the My Tobii reported his performance during a trial run with the device was exceptional. While insurance coverage for the My Tobii has not yet been approved, more than $1,200 toward its cost was raised in in recent online campaign conducted for R.J. by the Giving Foundation for Children.

R.J. is being fitted for the reclining chair that will soon replace the car bed he has outgrown. And if insurance covers his My Tobii, the funds raised for the device will go toward outfitting the family’s van to accommodate his new chair.

In still more good news for his family, R.J’s mother, Crystal, recently bought the mobile home they previously rented at low cost from the Gray Funeral Home next door, and she’s making good progress on having the trailer moved to property donated by a family member.

With the down payment on their home, the cost of the move and the extra expenses that come with R.J.’s care, the family’s finances remain a challenge and friends are continuing to raise money to help.

Those who wish to contribute may do so through a Pay Pal account set up by R.J.’s aunt, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Penny Fitzgerald, using her email at [email protected]?, or donations to the R.J. Morelock account may be made at any Eastman Federal Credit Union location or by mail to Crystal Morelock, P.O. Box 9161, Gray, TN 37615. Those who wish to keep up with R.J.’s progress are encouraged to visit his“Asking for Prayers for RJ Morelock” page on Facebook.

Coalition for Kids is packing up and preparing to move its family of more than 300 children and 50 staff members from The Rock Community Center on Watauga Road to the program’s new home in the former Tri-Cities Christian School.

While the move will not take place until late summer or early fall, the preparations are underway, including a drive for new tables and chairs to furnish the school building that will allow the coalition to triple the number of children included in its evening meal and enrichment program and expand its after school program to more than 400 children.

“Coalition has seen uncommon growth and uncommon opportunities and I know this is due to uncommon hearts of generosity and servitude that have sustained us,” Executive Director Randy Hensley wrote in a letter to update the community on the building donated to the coalition by Johnson City businessman Mitch Cox.

With thanks to Cox and to the many people who have facilitated the coalition’s dream of expanding its program to more than 400 children, Hensley reported: “Closets are being sorted with everything we have used labeled and anything no longer needed passed to other hands that may use it. The sound of full boxes being taped is constant and the pile that is ready to go increase on a daily basis.”

Hensley also expressed thanks to those who have already donated tables and chairs for the new building and invited others to consider a sponsorship of $50 for a chair, $100 for a table or $150 “to provide a place for a child who needs the coalition.”

Donations may be made by mail to Coalition for Kids, P.O. Box 3156, Johnson City, TN., or online at coalitionforkids.org.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]? , P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335. Follow Sue Guinn Legg on Twitter

R. J. Morelock, the Gray child with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative genetic disease that has had him on a respirator since he was 2 months old, recently celebrated his second birthday, outliving doctors’ expectations by more than a year.

A large crowd of friends and family turned out for his June 7 birthday celebration at Gray United Methodist Church and presented him with gifts, including a special swing designed and built just for him.

Since our last Good Neighbor update on R.J., he’s been making the most of his limited mobility to express himself musically on a small electronic keyboard, tapping his way through early learning games on an iPad awarded to him by the Gwendlyn Strong Foundation, and mastering other educational toys in preparation for his for next huge step.

That step is a My Tobii eye-gazer computer that will speak for R.J. and allow him to verbally communicate and engage with the world around him is nearing his reach.

Demonstrating the intelligence that those who know R.J. best have always vouched for, R.J.’s lead therapist and a representative from the company that makes the My Tobii reported his performance during a trial run with the device was exceptional. While insurance coverage for the My Tobii has not yet been approved, more than $1,200 toward its cost was raised in in recent online campaign conducted for R.J. by the Giving Foundation for Children.

R.J. is being fitted for the reclining chair that will soon replace the car bed he has outgrown. And if insurance covers his My Tobii, the funds raised for the device will go toward outfitting the family’s van to accommodate his new chair.

In still more good news for his family, R.J’s mother, Crystal, recently bought the mobile home they previously rented at low cost from the Gray Funeral Home next door, and she’s making good progress on having the trailer moved to property donated by a family member.

With the down payment on their home, the cost of the move and the extra expenses that come with R.J.’s care, the family’s finances remain a challenge and friends are continuing to raise money to help.

Those who wish to contribute may do so through a Pay Pal account set up by R.J.’s aunt, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Penny Fitzgerald, using her email at [email protected]?, or donations to the R.J. Morelock account may be made at any Eastman Federal Credit Union location or by mail to Crystal Morelock, P.O. Box 9161, Gray, TN 37615. Those who wish to keep up with R.J.’s progress are encouraged to visit his “Asking for Prayers for RJ Morelock page on Facebook.

Coalition for Kids is packing up and preparing to move its family of more than 300 children and 50 staff members from The Rock Community Center on Watauga Road to the program’s new home in the former Tri-Cities Christian School.

While the move will not take place until late summer or early fall, the preparations are underway, including a drive for new tables and chairs to furnish the school building that will allow the coalition to triple the number of children included in its evening meal and enrichment program and expand its after school program to more than 400 children.

“Coalition has seen uncommon growth and uncommon opportunities and I know this is due to uncommon hearts of generosity and servitude that have sustained us,” Executive Director Randy Hensley wrote in a letter to update the community on the building donated to the coalition by Johnson City businessman Mitch Cox.

With thanks to Cox and to the many people who have facilitated the coalition’s dream of expanding its program to more than 400 children, Hensley reported: “Closets are being sorted with everything we have used labeled and anything no longer needed passed to other hands that may use it. The sound of full boxes being taped is constant and the pile that is ready to go increase on a daily basis.”

Hensley also expressed thanks to those who have already donated tables and chairs for the new building and invited others to consider a sponsorship of $50 for a chair, $100 for a table or $150 “to provide a place for a child who needs the coalition.”

Donations may be made by mail to Coalition for Kids, P.O. Box 3156, Johnson City, TN., or online at coalitionforkids.org.

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at [email protected]? , P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335. Follow Sue Guinn Legg on Twitter@sueleggjcpress. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/sueleggjcpress.

Recommended Videos