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Mom launches fundraiser for disabled son

'Show Your Love' donations will aid boy with cerebral palsy


(Image is Clickable Link) by: COURTESY OF JESSIE KIRK PHOTOGRAPHY - Canby resident Shasta Kearns Moore plays with her identical twin boys, Jaden (left) and Malachi, both 3, at Willamette Falls State Park. She carries Malachi in a backpack because he cant yet walk due to his cerebral palsy. 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,” says Kearns Moore, former editor of the Canby Herald’s sister papers, the West Linn Tidings and Southwest Community Connection. 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 says.

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

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 and 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 www.darkandlightbooks.com). That effort, which began as an online crowd-sourcing campaign through Kickstarter, was “a huge success,” she says, 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.

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 set up lessons with 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.