Noah was only four weeks old when the doctors thought his life would end. He had been admitted to the hospital experiencing cardiac arrest due to kidney failure and he wasn’t expected to survive the night. But Noah must have had a miracle with his name on it because he not only survived the night, but began making sudden improvements. The hospital staff knew that it would be touch and go for some time, but Noah’s quest for survival had surprised them all.
Unfortunately, due to complications from his resuscitation, he required surgery to remove both of his legs from the knees down. Later, he would also require surgery to remove his kidney and revise his urinary tract.
Because he had suffered so much trauma during a critical time in his development, it was impossible to tell what the long-term effects of his ordeal would be.
Through it all, Addy, a nurse on the hospital’s pediatric ward, found herself inexplicably drawn to this sweet little boy. She kept a watchful eye on him as he laid alone in his hospital bed day after day. When Noah needed an advocate, she stepped up as his foster mom, took him home when he was discharged, and helped him heal and develop during the years that followed.
Addy fostered Noah for three and a half years through healing amputations, helmet therapy for head shaping, multiple surgeries, physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and multiple infections. Social services continued to document that Noah was thriving in Addy’s care. When Social Services terminated Noah’s natural parental rights, Addy stepped up as Noah’s adoptive single mother.
But the toll that those three years took on Addy was significant. She was exhausted. And then a covid-19 pandemic strained the childcare services Addy needed to help provide optimal care to Noah while serving on the frontlines as an emergency room nurse.
She loved Noah dearly and wanted to make sure that he had the best life possible. However, she was quickly realizing that she could not do this by herself. A long friend and fellow nurse, Lydia, invited Addy and Noah to move nearly 2,000 miles to Idaho to help support Addy and Noah in meeting their needs as Noah was now a 40 lbs toddler in need of prosthetics and potty-training assistance. . In many ways, Lydia and Addy played out the real-world version of the saying, “it takes a village…”
Thanks to the village, Noah wasted no time in catching up. He was accepted as a beneficiary of the Jordan Thomas Foundation for prosthetics, which were provided by POA-Orlando. He began learning to walk, talk, and explore his world. He started pre-school and began catching up on his social and academic needs. He started physical therapy to help him navigate his environment and continued speech therapy to advance his verbal skills
But all this learning took focus and Noah needed a happy place to relax and enjoy life. Through riding the horses at Champ’s Heart, he met his favorite horse, Slick. Noah talked about Slick every night before he went to bed and every morning when he woke up. He developed a passion for horses that helped him put all his challenges aside for just a bit. When it comes to the horses, Noah has a bottomless curiosity, and wants to experience everything.
Riding a horse just naturally helps to strengthen a person’s core and their ability to balance. Although Champ’s Heart does not engage in any formal therapy, Addy believes that this natural benefit helps Noah participate in his traditional therapy programs.
Noah’s desire to ride Slick is so strong, that he seems to work harder to use his words. Addy has noticed that he becomes much more talkative when he is with the horses, and he wants to know everything about them.
Addy also notices that Noah wants to watch TV programs and read books about horses, which is the first time she has seen him make these kinds of connections.
Noah is a survivor and a thriver by nature, and Champ’s Heart is helping him find those moments of joy, freedom, and confidence that make his journey just a little easier.