Team Carter and STEPtember Fun!

This, like most, is the summer of Superhero movies. With that in mind, we wanted to share the story of a family at UCP-OC that very much resembles a family of Superheroes.

Enter two of the protagonists – Melissa and Brian, the parents of two adorable little boys. The oldest of which, is Carter, a happy and loving three and a half year old. On the outside looking in, the family shares many typical day to day activities as their sons spend time playing with toy cars, trucks and balls while listening to ‘The Wheels on the Bus.’ But as Melissa explains it, “We are real life Superheroes, because every day we manage situations that a ‘regular’ family may think impossible.”

This part of their extraordinary life began in March of 2013. It was around then that Brian and Melissa noticed that Carter had missed several developmental milestones early on. Later in 2015, as they walked into their official appointment with their Neurologist to discuss Carter, the concerned parents understood that an impending Cerebral Palsy diagnosis was likely. Even so, when the Neurologist did diagnose Carter with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, it was an emotional moment. Melissa and Brian thought, “Will he be able to stand or walk independently? Will we be able to provide our beautiful son with everything and anything he may need?”

Met in the face of adversity, Melissa and Brian put their worries aside and focused all their energy on providing a happy and fulfilling Life Without Limits for Carter. His parents found out about UCP-OC and soon Carter, whose biggest struggles are independent mobility and communication, began Physical, Occupational and Speech therapy regularly. Carter has now officially been in therapy for two years and the family is “overjoyed with how incredibly far he has come,” said Melissa.

When Melissa and Brian think about what life lessons Carter has taught them, they show no hesitation as they explain that Carter, “Changed our lives for the better. His diagnosis opened our eyes to a world we never knew and a journey we never expected would be our own. But through this journey he opened our hearts to so much more.”

It was just last year that Melissa and Brian heard about STEPtember through UCP-OC. With a son that is so truly inspiring to them, they decided to start a Team Carter and participate in STEPtember for the first time. Now, with what we know about this incredible family, it is not hard to believe that their team (again, in their FIRST year of participation), walked a total of 670,576 steps and raised $3,351.00. All in only 28 days. Carter inspires their whole family everyday and Melissa and Brian said that they, “wanted to make a difference, raise awareness and support a great cause. We hoped to remind others that we all take many things for granted, walking is definitely one of those things.”

Lastly, of course, the parents gave credit to their son who shows them that with a tenacious and positive attitude, it is always possible to live a Life Without Limits!

CP won't stop carter




UCP-OC Respite Team Member Named Miss Huntington Beach OC Ambassador for 2017

We are proud to announce that our very own Respite Recruiter, Alexandria Marshall, was recently crowned Miss Huntington Beach OC Ambassador 2017. In this role, Alexandria will promote something that is close to her heart – serving as an advocate for children with special needs.

Alexandria, who will celebrate her two year anniversary with UCP-OC this month, was just promoted to the position of Respite Recruiter. The Respite and Childcare programs provide skilled pediatric caregivers to assist special needs children and their parents at no charge. These services and many others are tied to UCP-OC’s mission to help children with disabilities reach their full potential, improve the quality of life for their families and foster an attitude of acceptance and inclusion.

At just twenty-four years old, Alexandria is a passionate special needs advocate that she says began by having a sister with Down syndrome. Throughout her life, Alexandria has supported her sister Courtney through variety of activities that serve kids and adults with special needs including summer camps, dances and the Special Olympics.

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Hand-picked for the position of Miss Huntington Beach OC Ambassador, Alexandria was chosen among 12 applicants and cites her advocacy of children and families with disabilities and work at UCP-OC as key to her selection. Her designated platform during her term as Miss Huntington Beach OC Ambassador will be to raise awareness for individuals with special needs. And to this end, she aims to tie-in the work of UCP-OC.

Alex explains, “I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for my sister, Courtney. She has taught me to appreciate the small things in life and never take anything for granted. She has been my biggest and most devoted fan through my pageant journey!”

A lifelong resident of Huntington Beach, Alex is a 2014 graduate of Texas Christian University (Cum Laude) where she received her B.A. in Musical Theater Performance. The multi-talented 24 year-old loves to sing, dance and perform. On Sundays, you can find her singing with her church praise band.

Her future dream is starting a nonprofit theater or camp for kids and adults with disabilities. In the meantime, she is working hard for UCP-OC and looking forward to what next year holds in her new role as Miss Huntington Beach OC Ambassador 2017.