BRANDON SKINNER – 2015 RECIPIENT

2015 RecipientThis is when they identified that Brandon had a loss of oxygen to the brain at some point during everything, and he had what was called Periventricular Leukomalacia. Basically spots on his brain were dead. We were told at the time that he would have some sort of Cerebral Palsy, but we would not know how much damage had been done until Brandon started to get a little older.

Brandon spent one month to the day in the children’s hospital. Two weeks in the NICU, and two weeks in the CCU. Brandon has an older brother Bryce that was 2 ½ years old at the time. Bryce did not get to meet his little brother until the day he came home from the hospital. My heart still melts when I look at the picture of the “big brother” holding the little brother for the first time. Brandon also made it home just in time for Dad to be able to take in a little bit of the Wisconsin Deer Hunting Season.

Brandon started physical therapy when he was about 6 months old to try and help out with some of the milestones like rolling over, and sitting up. He never really did learn to do a 4 point crawl. He did a belly or army crawl as some called it. Who needed a mop when we had little Brandon to do it.

As he grew so did the tone and it soon became evident that we were going to have to use some other measures for him to have any sort of normal physical activity. We started seeing a doctor at Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul and he received Botox injections to help reduce tone. When that started not to work so well, we went to Phenol injections that were placed right in to the nerves to deaden them and reduce tone. We did this a few times a year for a few years. When he was 8 years old, and finishing up second grade he had his surgery to implant his baclofen pump in his abdomen. This has a catheter that runs around and to his back and up his spinal cord. The pump dispenses medication to him on a daily basis to loosen his tone. This has been an awesome thing. It allows Brandon so much more mobility by lessoning his tone.

Later that same year just before Christmas he had another surgery. This one took many hours, and was way more intrusive. They had to cut both femurs and replace the ball in to the hip joints so they lined up correctly. They also had to do some work on his abductors. This surgery put him in a body cast for 6 weeks. It made for an interesting Christmas that year.

Brandon is on his second power wheel chair now as he outgrew the first one. Let’s just say we have had many holes in walls, and doors as well as having some bruised toes, and shins. This chair has many more bells and whistles, and it goes a lot faster. Brandon will tell you he runs, and walks in it, and in his life that is exactly right. It’s the only way he knows.

Brandon has always been known for his quick smile, and we love his laughter. He’s in the 7th grade now and he lives his every day to be as normal as he can.

He absolutely loves Hockey, and he is an avid Minnesota Wild fan. We’ve been to several games over the last few years, and he even got a visit from some Wild players while he was in the hospital and a special visit from Nordy the mascot at a game one time. I would say right now his favorite players are Parise, and Dubnyk. He’s a Green Bay Packer football fan, and most days.. a Milwaukee Brewer fan – although right now he will tell you he’s not impressed.

He loves to build things with the tools he has acquired over the last few years. He makes and sells birdhouses with the help of his friend Ethan, and his Dad, and right now he needs to get busy because he’s behind on his orders. He is in 4-H, and has shown horse for the last 4 years in the therapeutic riding program. Last year he tried something new, and started showing sheep with the help of his good friend and mentor Bailey. His lamb “Sassy” got the top rate of gain award last year, and Brandon was able to sell her at the livestock auction at the end of the fair. It was a bittersweet day when he had to say goodbye.

There is nothing like his LOVE for hunting. He spends as much time as he can with Dad and Grandpa at the hunting cabin. We’ve had lots of great help from friends and family. Brandon’s godfather built him a special chair for the shack, and now this last summer built a pulley lift to be able to get Brandon up to the shack.

This year our friend Christopher told us about Shot For Hope, and that we should check it out. After we filled out the application, Brandon and his Dad had the opportunity to go on a bow course shoot (where Brandon was able to borrow a track wheelchair-he was so pumped), and they were able to meet and talk with Eric more about the program.

I can’t even begin to say how excited he is, or how deeply grateful we are that Brandon is going to have this opportunity for this once and a lifetime trip.

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