Personal Stories

Blair & Daniel Donegan share how High Hopes has helped their daughter Adley achieve major milestones in only a year since being diagnosed with a rare neurotransmitter disorder.


High Hopes parent Pamela Andrews shares her story of how High Hopes has helped her son Max since he was 8 months old.


High Hopes parent Jennifer Lagutin shares why she chose High Hopes for her typically developing son Rolly.


Axel, Susanne's son, is both a Preschool student and a Therapy patient at High Hopes. Susanne shares how High Hopes has made a difference in her son.


Wyatt and the High Hopes Difference

Our son, Wyatt, was diagnosed with Smith Magenis Syndrome (SMS) in October of 2014 at nine months old. Wyatt was born four weeks premature, and this diagnosis came after months of various medical issues and developmental delays. Initially, he had a lot of respiratory and feeding difficulties, but we were told that this was due to his prematurity and improvement was expected. As the weeks and months progressed, he continued to struggle and more issues began to arise. In the first few months of Wyatt’s life, we were sent to specialist after specialist. As a new mother, I was terrified. Despite most of Wyatt’s physicians continued to assure us that everything would resolve on its own, I  could not shake the feeling there was a bigger problem causing of all of these issues. So, I continued to push the doctors for answers. We eventually took Wyatt to a new pediatrician who referred us to a geneticist for testing,  revealing Wyatt was in fact missing a portion of chromosome 17 known as Smith Magenis Syndrome (SMS). As much as I had wanted an answer, this was not the one I wanted. We had never heard of SMS and to make matters worse, we would soon find that none of Wyatt’s doctors or specialists had either. We were completely shocked and terrified of the unknown future we would face with our son. 

Before we started at High Hopes, Wyatt was still struggling to eat solid food and drink from a cup. After a few months at High Hopes, Wyatt showed very few limitations when it came to eating and drinking and has since been able to stop receiving feeding therapy all together. Wyatt still receives occupational and speech therapy, but he has grown by leaps and bounds in these areas as well. The preschool allows Wyatt to learn alongside typical peers which is absolutely amazing. We have never once felt that Wyatt doesn’t fit at High Hopes, and as a parent of a child with special needs I can’t describe how huge that is. Words cannot describe how much we appreciate the staff and therapists at High Hopes. They have truly made an incredible difference in our life and in the lives of so many others!

-Jessica & Eric

From a tragic beginning to a hopeful future: Meet Grayson

Grayson was born with an addiction to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  His withdrawals were so severe, he was in the hospital for three and a half months and was considered one of the worst cases of withdrawals that the nurses at Vanderbilt had ever seen.   As a result of his birth circumstances, Grayson often experienced respiratory distress and was diagnosed as significantly developmentally delayed.

At 7 months, Grayson began receiving Physical, Occupational, Speech and Feeding therapies at The Therapy Clinic at High Hopes.  His therapists encouraged and supported the family while working to overcome so many obstacles and celebrated alongside them when they were able to legally adopt Grayson.  After his 2nd birthday, Grayson enrolled in The Preschool at High Hopes.  It was there that he found a loving, educational environment and learned social skills with his peers.  Weekly therapy appointments transformed him from "developmentally delayed" to a typical, active, curious, busy toddler.

Now age three, he no longer needs his feeding tube and continues to meet his age appropriate milestones.  Grayson is a living testament to the life-changing services that High Hopes provides for children in need.

Miracles Delivered through High Hopes ~ Caleb

Caleb was born a perfectly healthy little boy July 11, 2012.  Two weeks later our world was turned upside down when he developed bacterial meningitis.  This  journey resulted in a month-long stay at Vanderbilt and life-long effects for Caleb of significant frontal lobe brain damage and risk of seizures.

Caleb is our little fighter and has always had several guardian angels watching over him.  We came home from the hospital with no idea whether our son would walk, talk, eat well, or function as a typically-developing child.  We only knew we wanted to provide him with the best resources possible.  We sincerely believe it was one of those guardian angels who led us to be introduced to High Hopes.

Caleb began attending High Hopes Preschool five days a week in October 2012 at 3 months of age.  It is hard for us to explain the support we have received from this organization.  Despite all odds, Caleb is a thriving and rambunctious toddler!  He definitely still experiences challenges, but High Hopes is always there for us.  His doctors can only explain some of his abilities as miracles.  We agree and we believe that God uses our High Hopes family to help deliver these miracles.

"Teachers & therapists love the work they do"

Meet our Elle.  Born in June 2010, Elle was six weeks early and spent almost two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit learning to eat properly and gain weight.  At six months, we began noticing Elle was not meeting typical goals, like rolling over.  At 14 months, Elle still wasn't pulling up or talking, so we contacted Tennessee's Early Intervention System (TEIS) who said Elle had a Global Development Delay and recommended High Hopes.

Elle began physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy weekly at High Hopes' Therapy Clinic at 16 months of age.  Shortly after, Elle began attending High Hopes' Preschool and it was the best thing we could have done for her!  No test, to date, has been able to explain Elle's developmental delays, but we are happy to report that the teacher and therapist collaboration at High Hopes has made a hugely positive impact on Elle's development.  She is walking and will be running in no time!  She can feed herself and is understanding and communicating more each day, thanks to all the work of the High Hopes staff.  Everyone at High Hopes knows Elle by name and loves her.  The teachers and therapists have a special place in their hearts for the work they do and we just can't say enough about how High Hopes has helped our little doodle bug!

Learning to "eat like a boss!" ~ Anaya

Anaya came home from Arkansas at 15 months old.  She had the most vibrant personality and we were smitten with her immediately!  At 15 months, she had never eaten food orally, nor even knew what that required.  She had a feeding tube as her main source of nutrition.

We had a friend recommend High Hopes and we began seeing a feeding therapist there.  The feeding therapist was so sweet and patient with us as we learned how to teach this phenomenon we call "eating."  We worked together empowering Anaya to do it and she made incredible improvement!  After 6 months at High Hopes Anaya became completely independent of the tube.  Within one year of  Anaya being home, she had her tube out and was doing amazingly.  We're so grateful for the therapists at High Hopes and their help and guidance with Anaya's eating.  Now, when dinner is over she asks with the biggest smile, "Did I eat like a boss?" and she knows the answer, which is often "YES!"

Meet Hatcher

High Hopes changes lives. My son, Hatcher, came to High Hopes at age one with Down syndrome and leukemia, unable to walk or talk. As a divorced mom with the responsibility of two older children and a baby that required multiple treatments and medical appointments, I could not work outside our home and applied for food stamps just to feed my children.

When we arrived at High Hopes, we found help, encouragement, and hope. To me, what sets High Hopes apart is that I never asked for help.  High Hopes teachers and therapists reached out to me and asked what they could do. High Hopes found a private donor to fund Hatcher’s tuition and specialized glasses. When Hatcher went into remission and his immune system strengthened, he enrolled in morning and aftercare, and I looked for a job.

Through High Hopes’ education and therapy, Hatcher, now age four, socializes, walks, and communicates using words and sign language. I accepted a full-time position with another nonprofit agency. Since my employment, I paid down my credit, got off food stamps, and even qualified for a home loan. High Hopes has truly blessed my family.

- Jennifer Schultz, High Hopes Parent

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