Most parents have hopes and dreams for their children. However, sometimes an accident or illness can put an obstacle in their way. That's where the Children's Miracle Network can have a profound effect on a family, like the McNutts.
Crystal and Patrick McNutt consider play time a treasure when they watch their 5-year-old son Jackson.
"He's a bright spirit. He's a very happy boy, he loves to play with trains and all normal boy stuff," Patrick said.
When Jackson was born in April of 2008, he was a dream come true. However, as Jackson grew, Crystal began to worry something wasn't right.
"At 18 months I did realize there was not quite the eye contact I was looking for. He was never too affectionate. He would not try to mimic words. Things I thought were typical at that age weren't happening."
Patrick added, "He had a lot of behavioral issues, a lot of meltdowns. That was pretty hard to deal with."
Crystal and Patrick took Jackson to a slew of doctors and finally got a diagnosis that explained Jackson's behavior: Autism.
"I felt a sign of relief when we finally got the diagnosis," Crystal said.
"[The doctor] knew about the CHIP program with Mercy Autism Services, and he referred us to go there," Patrick said. "And actually on the way home from getting the diagnosis, we called CHIP and set up an appointment to get him enrolled in the school. We moved as fast as we could and he was one of the youngest in the program at the time."
"CHIP" stands for Clinic Home Intensive Program, and Mercy's CHIP program is regarded as one of the best in the world. But it's expensive, and insurance doesn't cover any of it. The McNutts were willing to pay everything they had to get help for their son, but they couldn't afford it on their own.
With help from the Children's Miracle Network, they were able to enroll Jackson and get their son the help he desperately needed.
"It was like a veil was being lifted and he started opening up and communicating with us more, and it was probably the best feeling we could have as parents at that time," Patrick said.
Jackson flourished at CHIP, where instructors were able to help him unlock the barriers to his learning and communication. Crystal and Patrick felt like they were witnessing miracles every day with Jackson.
"He would say ‘purple' and he would say it in a funny little accent, like a British accent, and it was the cutest thing, and I would record his voice and set it as my ringtone actually because, oh, it was the sweetest sound," Crystal said.
Patrick easily remembers one of his favorite moments with his son, "I was dropping him at school once and he said, ‘I love you, daddy,' and that was probably one of the most emotional times of my life and it was wonderful."
Crystal and Patrick had another son, Logan, who's now two. The McNutts say Jackson has learned to be a good big brother to Logan with the help of his teachers and parents. The McNutts felt that Children's Miracle network had truly given them a miracle for their family.
Then in April of 2012, doctors dropped a bombshell the McNutts never saw coming.
Jackson was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. A fatal disease that means Jackson's muscles will deteriorate and he will eventually pass away.
"It tears you straight down," Crystal said. "You think, ‘Wow we got through all of this, and we made so much improvement,' and then you hear this and it literally rocks you to your core and it was the darkest period of my life. That was the hardest time for sure to try to accept that, because it's a fatal disorder that will take his life in his teens and there's nothing we can do."
One of the best medical teams in the world for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy happens to be at another Children's Miracle Network Hospital: Nationwide Children's in Columbus. That's where Jackson will receive his medical care as the muscular dystrophy progresses.
Through all of this, the McNutts say they are simply grateful. Grateful that the Children's Miracle Network is helping their son to be the best he can be for however long he's here.
"I know I have faith, and I know the reason I'm on this Earth, and I know that Jackson will never suffer. He will always have us behind him, his family, his friends. He will have a good life. We're the ones that will have to struggle with losing him," Crystal said.
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