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Bake sale, online fund drive aid boy with cerebral palsy

Canby mom launches Show Your Love campaign to raise money for preschoolers treatments


by: JESSIE KIRK PHOTOGRAPHY - Malachi and his mom, Shasta Kearns Moore, share a smile as the youngster practices movement in his walker. by: JESSIE KIRK PHOTOGRAPHY - Malachi, at age 2, in his Mulholland Walkabout hands-free walker.  Canby mom Shasta Kearns Moore wants to trade a dozen cookies for a dash of compassion for Malachi.

Across the nation thousands of folks like her, connected to people with ongoing serious medical issues, have turned to online sources as they struggle to keep up with bills related to their loved ones’ treatments. They’ve created profiles on GiveForward, a Chicago-based startup that helps individuals raise money to cover out-of-pocket medical costs.

Here at home, Kearns Moore is doing the same — with a delicious twist. The author, wife and mother of identical twins aims to turn handmade Valentine’s Day goodies into medical funds for Malachi, her 3-year-old son who has cerebral palsy. She’s doing it using two routes: a February bake sale in Hillsdale and a 35-day campaign on GiveForward.

Collectively called “Show Your Love,” Kearns Moore’s efforts are designed to help her son reach his greatest potential by providing him with targeted physical and cognitive therapies the family otherwise could not afford. Her goal is to raise $5,000.

“Malachi’s brain damage at birth remains a significant obstacle in his ability to run, jump and play like his brother does,” said Kearns Moore, former editor of the West Linn Tidings in the Lake Oswego Review office. While her other son, Jaden — a mirror image of his dark-haired, blue-eyed sibling — scampers around on area playgrounds, Malachi can’t yet walk and lags behind his peers in appetite and weight.

Yet he’s a whiz with numbers, is already reading and loves to sing silly songs, according to his mom, who — when she’s not shuttling him to his numerous therapy appointments — spends her days taking both boys on outings to the library, the zoo, on play dates with friends and to specially designed “inclusive” playgrounds for kids of all mobility levels.

Almost always, Kearns Moore said, cerebral palsy is “associated with movement disorders” but can also affect cognition, speech and everything in between. “It’s similar to the effects of a stroke — everyone is different,” she said.

“Malachi is fantastic at most academic pursuits,” noted Kearns Moore. “He can sight-read most simple words and some of his favorite books he can read to us in full.” A couple weeks back, Malachi spied a book called “Winter Rabbit” in his classroom at Canby Community Preschool and insisted he wanted to read it.

“He just read the title,” said Kearns Moore. “He’d never seen the book before.”

Despite her son’s unmistakable intellectual progress, however, anxiety over his future lurks in the background for Kearns Moore, whose pregnancy turned high-risk after her obstetrician discovered she was carrying twins. She and her husband, medical records software trainer Matt Millard, decided she would resign from her newspaper post and begin bed rest.

But their sons still arrived 10 weeks early, in June 2010, and Malachi suffered a traumatic brain injury during the birth process, which in turn caused his cerebral palsy — a central motor dysfunction that affects muscle tone, posture and movement, among other possible complications.

The newborns remained in Oregon Health & Science University’s neonatal intensive care unit for 42 days.

In 2012, Kearns Moore used her writing talents to create and publish a board book called “Dark and Light: A Love Story in Black and White” (available at darkandlightbooks.com). That effort, which began as an online crowd-sourcing campaign through Kickstarter, was “a huge success,” she said, and taught her that “there is nothing more powerful nor joyful than a community coming together in service.”

Yet with continued — and multiplying — medical appointments for Malachi on the horizon, Kearns Moore was getting nervous as 2013 came to a close.

“We have all worked hard to provide him with the very best therapies and equipment,” said Kearns Moore. “However, this has come at a high price and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Though the family has health insurance coverage, in 2013 Kearns Moore and Millard spent $15,000 out-of-pocket on special therapies for Malachi, including several trips to California to meet with practitioners of the Anat Baniel Method, modeled after the findings of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, a 20th century scientist who believed the brain can change itself to improve physical skill and well-being.

This year, the parents plan to provide Malachi with six courses of Anat Baniel Method lessons, a trip to New York to have him fitted with ankle-foot orthotics, an eight-week course of scalp acupuncture, hippotherapy (horseback riding) and music therapy.

Because Malachi continues to have poor weight gain, a major focus will also be figuring out a nutritional system that works for him, “with a gastrointestinal tube and its associated co-payment becoming more and more of a possibility,” his mother said.

So, Kearns Moore is turning to her circle of family and friends once again, hoping to appeal to the kindness and generosity of those she knows — and even many she doesn’t. Sweet treats are a central part of “Show Your Love,” allowing folks to pre-purchase handmade food items for their loved ones, co-workers and classmates in time for the Feb. 14 holiday.

The cookies, pies and chocolates (including a gluten-free option) will be available for pickup during the bake sale at Hillsdale Community Church on Feb. 9.

Here’s how to Show Your Love

If you’d like to help provide medical therapies for Malachi, there are several ways to help:

· Visit his page, Show Your Love, (gfwd.at/1aQXsHt at GiveForward.com) and donate what you can.

· Share Malachi's GiveForward page on Facebook or other social media.

· Pre-order baked goods for Valentine's Day by donating $20 or more to the GiveForward campaign. Print your receipt and bring it to the bake sale to collect a dozen goodies of your choice.

· Come to the bake sale benefit from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 at Hillsdale Community Church, 6948 SW Capitol Highway, Portland.



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