When my daughter, Addie, was four years old, I had a phone conversation that changed the course of my family’s life. Melissa Brohner, a therapist at Cheerful Helpers, was the first person I had ever spoken with who understood my daughter’s behavior. Even better—she offered a place where Addie could thrive at her own pace.
At last month’s inaugural Cheerful Helpers Alumni Tribute, I had a chance to publicly thank Melissa for that phone call. And Addie, now 18, had the opportunity to speak in front of the assembled guests, including Melissa, Ellen Pearlman and many of her family members and supporters over the past 14 years. Addie didn’t draw, write, or really even speak when she entered the Cheerful Helpers program. To watch Addie address the room at this CHAT event—with a speech she had written—was remarkable.
A sudden bout of tears (joyful, yet overwhelming) came over me while I drove home from the morning event. The ability to share this most personal story with those who have directly impacted our family’s trajectory was powerful. Addie’s star is rising. And Cheerful Helpers helped provide a crucial foundation for this growth.