DadKiss_LG

David, Lauren’s dad, calls her his “little genius.”

Lauren, who turns nineteen next month, was given a very special gift last December. Two days after Christmas, Lauren received news that she was finally going home. It was her first day home in six years.

“We’re getting her home by the Grace of God,” says Lauren’s dad, David, as he shares the emotions of that extraordinary day.

A Fighter

Walking into Lauren’s new bedroom, visitors are greeted by The Twilight Saga movie posters, Luke Bryan music playing in the background, and Lauren’s big, beautiful smile. Lauren suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a neuromuscular disease that causes severe muscle weakness and requires her dependence on mechanical ventilation.

Lauren’s diagnosis has never stopped her from achieving her goals. An honor roll student, softball and basketball player, and chorus participant, Lauren is happy to finally be home.

Lauren was chosen out of 3,000 students to receive the Spirit of Excellence Award, recognizing her extraordinary service, effort, and achievement.

Lauren was nominated and chosen as a recipient of her high school’s Spirit of Excellence Award for her outstanding leadership, service, and academic and social skills.

“We were told Lauren wouldn’t live past three.” David continues, “Then, we were told she wouldn’t live much after seven.”

Lauren pipes into her father’s story: “I’m a fighter.”

Today, Lauren is still fighting. This time, she’s fighting to live at home, surrounded by her friends and family.

Lauren’s transition home includes 24/7 skilled nursing care. Kristi, LPN, is one of Lauren’s full-time nurses who welcomed her home last December.

“We all love working with Lauren,” Kristi reveals. “Lauren’s whole team is invested in keeping her home.”

Make ‘em Laugh

Lauren proves that laughter truly is the best medicine.

“Lauren and I want nurses to enjoy being here,” David says. “We want them to laugh.”

Kirsti_LG

Lauren and her nurse, Kristi, LPN, share the same ringtone on their phones, “Let it Go,” from Disney’s hit, Frozen.

Lauren banters back and forth with her dad and Kristi during the visit. Laughter is at the heart of Lauren’s relationships.

Overhearing her dad say that she may need a new dietician, Lauren responds: “Dad, you’re the one who needs a dietician!” We all burst out in laughter.

Leak Speech and Communication

Lauren has a unique, little voice that she is able to vocalize using leak speech. This harmonious whisper is one of the many ways Lauren communicates. Lauren also expresses herself by moving her eyebrows up and down for “yes” and her eyes side to side for “NO!”

It’s easy to talk with Lauren. It’s one of the many reasons people feel close to her. Lauren’s dad even calls her a “social butterfly.”

As a member of Generation Z, often described as “millennials,” Lauren excels online. She uses email, texting, Facebook, and Skype to communicate daily. Lauren is able to do all of these things using an eye-tracking communication device.

 

Lauren’s future is bright. She is grateful to everyone who has touched her life, and wants to do the same for others. Lauren plans to attend college this fall where she will double major in social work and music. Knowing Lauren, she’s going to be successful in whatever she does.