ETTAC helps East Tennessee girl get walker at no charge

Phoebe Langford

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – WATE 6 On Your Side is collecting new toys for East Tennessee Technology Access Center for our Christmas in July event, but ETTAC does so much more when it comes to improving the lives of kids with disabilities. Phoebe Langford, 2, is a special little girl who is beating the odds every day.

“She has a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia where part of her cerebellum isn’t there and several other diagnosis,” said her mother Melissa Langford.

She says as a result, Phoebe is developmentally delayed but she’s also determined.

“When we first got her [after adoption] she had no social smile, no communication skills, no verbal skills, no sound,” says Langford.

Phoebe Langford
Phoebe Langford

A lot has changed in the last year. Phoebe is talking in her own way. She’s moving around more and her social skills are to the point where she’s able to play with others. Support from the East Tennessee Technology Access Center has played a huge part in that.

Related story: ‘Christmas in July’ toy drive to help East Tennessee kids with disabilities

“Children like Phoebe, who are considered chronically ill and medically fragile, they have these small gaps of time where they are well and you really have to capitalize on those gaps. When you are pushing for motor milestones and walking is a huge motor milestone.”

When Phoebe showed interest in pulling herself up and taking a step, her mom knew they had to act fast.

“So we called ETTAC and they gave us, that day, a gait trainer walker for her and within a few days she was using it and had some reciprocal motion in her legs.”

Now she is quite the little walker.

“She is very, very close to letting go and taking those first few steps on her own!”

Had they gone through insurance and a doctor’s office, Phoebe’s mom says it likely would have taken three months to get the life changing equipment.

“It’s amazing. It makes me so thankful. We know how blessed we are and the amazing things that have happened in her life that she’s accomplished so much,” said Langford.

Phoebe’s gait trainer walker cost her family nothing. ETTAC does all of the hard work, either buying equipment or refurbishing donated gear to get it in the hands of people with disabilities.

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