Happy National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day!

Today is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, a day that is very important to us here at UCP-OC. UCP-OC was originally founded in 1953 to help people of all ages that are affected by cerebral palsy (CP). UCP-OC now observes a greater demand to serve children with all types of disabilities, and that demand includes CP.

For those who may not know, cerebral palsy is the general term for a number of neurological conditions that affect movement and coordination. Children with CP have difficulties controlling muscles and movements as they grow and develop. Though there is no cure for CP, therapy can help people with CP to become more independent and that is precisely the goal of UCP-OC.

In honor of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day we would like to highlight the story of three-year-old Carter who was recently diagnosed with CP. Carter began his journey at UCP-OC by receiving physical, occupational, and speech therapy for his previous diagnosis of global developmental delay. Now that his diagnosis has changed to CP, Carter will continue to work with his therapists at UCP-OC and has made great strides and accomplished many goals.

Early on in Carter’s life, his parents Melissa and Brian along with his pediatrician noticed his visual impairment. At four months old, his vision had not improved and he began wearing glasses to correct his vision. Carter also started therapy to help him reach developmental milestones. Having impaired vision led to considerable delays for Carter but his tenacious and positive outlook, along with a bit of hard work, has gotten him far. In fact, Melissa shared that “Carter has made significant strides in all areas of his development with the help of his team at UCP-OC. As a parent, every trip to UCP-OC is my favorite because upon arrival, Carter can hardly contain his excitement because he knows where he is headed. This reaction alone is remarkable for our family.”

Melissa goes on to share that “While typical children are scheduling play dates and other activities, our children’s lives are about therapies. I say children’s because Carter’s little brother Jackson, who is one-year-old, attends every session. We spend a lot of time at UCP-OC and are grateful it is a home away from home for us. The support and love we receive from everyone is amazing. UCP-OC has really given our son a great opportunity to reach a Life Without Limits.”

His therapists Vanessa, Pati, Megan and Ria have seen Carter grow and have celebrated his accomplishments. Because UCP-OC houses multiple disciplines under one roof, Carter will be able to continue working with the therapists that have become like family. The developmental obstacles that Carter will face require hard work but we have no doubt that Carter can accomplish anything he puts his mind to.

To all of our UCP-OC benefactors, thank you for the support you have shown Carter and the 3,800 other children and families that UCP-OC proudly serves. Show your support of Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day, and Carter of course, by making a donation today! http://www.ucp-oc.org/give

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Celebrating World Rare Disease Day


World Rare Disease Day is annually held on the last day of February in order to bring awareness to the general public, policy makers, health professionals and anyone with an interest in rare diseases. For those affected by a rare disease, this is their day to share their story.

In honor of World Rare Disease Day, we here at UCP-OC would like to share Jayden’s story with you. Jayden was diagnosed with a rare disease at birth and would have a multitude of obstacles to overcome as he grew up. However, Jayden’s story is one of bravery and immense courage, the type of courage that inspires all.

Jayden, now 7 years old, came to UCP-OC 6 years ago after being diagnosed with cri du chat syndrome, pronounced cree-doo-shah, as a newborn. The diagnosis came when Jayden’s parents, Darlene and Leon, grew concerned of their new born baby’s irregular breathing and high-pitched cry. After many tests and seeking additional opinions, a genetics test revealed that Jayden did have cri du chat syndrome.

Cri du chat is a rare genetic disorder that is caused due to a missing part of chromosome 5. The French term refers to the cat-like cry of affected children. Though symptoms of cri du chat vary case by case, doctors explained to Darlene and Leon what they should expect. Receiving news like this as a parent can be very discouraging, but Darlene and Leon fought to provide a better future for Jayden and that fight brought them to UCP-OC.

When Jayden was first referred to UCP-OC for occupational therapy 6 years ago, he was not able to hold his head up or move around on his own. After receiving intensive therapy at UCP-OC, Jayden is now able to walk with the help of his walker. This is an amazing accomplishment, and it is not the only improvement Jayden has made. Just three years ago, Jayden had his gastrostomy tube, which is a feeding tube, removed and began physical therapy at UCP-OC. After a lot of hard work, Jayden is now able to eat on his own.

Jayden had many obstacles to overcome before he came to UCP-OC, and at only 7 years old he has accomplished so much. We have no doubt that Jayden will continue to reach milestones and achieve his goals, and this makes his family and UCP-OC extremely proud!


Latest Edition of the Connections Newsletter

The last 6 months have been full of excitement at UCP-OC. Check out our semi-annual Connections newsletter to read how UCP-OC helped Zachary find his words. Learn how you can make an impact for children and families affected by disabilities. Meet our newest board member, Laura Meier.
Click here to read the UCP-OC Winter 2015 Newsletter.IMG_8392.JPG

New Year, New Opportunities for a Life Without Limits

We hope you enjoyed the holidays! With each new year comes new opportunity to help children with disabilities reach their full potential and improve the quality of life for their families. Thank you for being an important part of this mission. With your help, we served 3,800 children and families last year and provided more than 100,000 hours of direct service. That’s huge! In our 60+ year history, it’s the first time we’ve broken six digits for service hours.
There is a lot to look forward to in 2016 at UCP-OC. Join us for our Life Without Limits Gala on April 2, 2016 at the Balboa Bay Resort, where we will proudly honor Dana L. Dowers and the Horowitz Group as we celebrate the children and families we serve. Check out our new recreation offerings. Join us for a free workshop. Volunteer. Visit our website for more information.
On behalf of all at UCP-OC, happy New Year! We hope our video brings a smile to your face, and look forward to seeing you soon.
To keep updated on all the fun, unique, and life-changing moments at UCP-OC, follow us on social media:
Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter View our videos on YouTube Visit our blog View our photos on flickr

Give a Life Without Limits to families like Tosh and Jody

Tosh direct mail side barDear Friend,

“My only goal was for us to survive. Without UCP-OC, I would’ve been totally lost. They helped me to understand a whole new world where each child and family has a different set of needs,” says Jody Weisberg.

Jody’s son Tosh was delivered stillborn by emergency C-section after an embolism took his mother’s life. Miraculously doctors resuscitated him but he spent three weeks in neonatal intensive care with extreme health issues, indicating a high risk for cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities.

Upon release, he was immediately referred to UCP-OC Early Intervention one-on-one therapy, the first step on Tosh’s path to a Life Without Limits.

“Like every child at UCP-OC, my son Tosh is unique and special. He started Early Intervention Therapy at four weeks old. His wonderful therapist Moira and I felt joy each time he reached a milestone, from his initial massage therapy to later when he began to crawl at seven or eight months.

I stayed with Tosh’s UCP-OC therapy every step along the way. Therapy was a gradual process. I didn’t count my chickens before they hatched. I didn’t jump ahead. As the weeks and months went by I just kept setting new hopes for Tosh. Happily, he walked at 13 months and “graduated” from therapy. Now, at 3 ½ years old, he’s developmentally typical and an active student at our local pre-school,” says Weisberg.

In the U.S. one in six children has a developmental disability or delay. In Orange County, there has been an increase of more than 21% since 2004 in
children with developmental disabilities. At UCP-OC, your help transforms the lives of children with developmental disabilities into a Life Without Limits.

UCP-OC is Orange County’s comprehensive one-stop organization that
serves the individual, specific needs of children with a broad range of disabilities.

Services, support, knowledge and a very special sense of community are all under one roof where your help really counts.

That’s why I hope you’ll join us to help children like Tosh with your
generous support and care. Your donation today to UCP-OC will make a world of difference.

While all of the UCP-OC programs require community support, therapy has the greatest need. More than 11,000 physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions were provided last year. The additional $35 per hour it costs to provide life-changing services must come from community support. That is why your support is needed now.

Your donation today of just $70 provides two hours of therapy to help change the life of a child like Tosh. Your gift of $350 will provide ten hours of therapy.

Your support for UCP-OC is the first step toward a Life Without Limits for children (birth to 22 years) with autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental delays.

“I am forever grateful for your contributions to UCP-OC. With your support, Tosh and I were not alone in facing our challenges – and neither are thousands of others who benefit from your help.” says Weisberg.

Your generous donation today will ensure that children and their families receive the vital therapy and support services that they need to reach their full potential and live a Life Without Limits.

Each child at UCP-OC has their own story of challenge and accomplishment, and every child benefits from your support. We are all grateful to you because you listen with compassion and respond with your generous donations. You are our strength and our hope.

With gratitude,

James Corbett
Chairman of the Board
UCP of Orange County

P.S. In 2016, to meet the community need, UCP-OC must provide more than 16,000 hours of life-changing therapy in Orange County for children with developmental disabilities – this means that many thousands of dollars in community support will be needed within a few months.

Your support and generosity will change the lives of families like Tosh and his dad, Jody!

Golf Tournament Featured in OCBJ

We are so grateful to all who made out 21st Annual Autumn Golf Classic a huge success! Special thanks to our committee, Chris Deason, Dennis Kuhl, Michael Marshall, Michele Maryott, Blair Minnis, and Scott Pievac, and all of our sponsors, who are recognized in the ad. Shoutout to our top sponsors: D.L.D. Insurance Brokers, Inc., the Dubia Family Foundation, Nancy & Geoffrey L. Stack Family Foundation, Lateef Invesment Management, Angels Baseball, City National Bank, Gibson Dunn, Brian Maryott at Wells Fargo Advisors, KPMG, and Select Staffing.

UCP-OC OCBJ Charity Scene 11/19

Carter is Stepping Up For UCP-OC

Carter, all smiles in physical therapy.

In honor of STEPtember, which starts today, we’re highlighting Carter, an absolutely adorable two-and-a-half-year-old with global developmental delay who receives physical, occupational and speech therapy and participates in Talk Play Learn group at UCP-OC. His family has committed to walk 10,000 steps per day from September 2-29 to raise funds and awareness for UCP-OC.

At two months of age, Carter’s parents, Melissa and Brian, together with his pediatrician, noticed his visual impairment, At four months, when his vision had not improved, he began wearing glasses to correct his vision and started therapy to help him reach developmental milestones. His impaired vision has led to some considerable delays for Carter, but this happy, tenacious little guy doesn’t mind hard work. Melissa shared that “Carter has made significant strides in all areas of his development with the help of his team at UCP-OC. As a parent, every trip to UCP-OC is my favorite, because upon arrival, Carter can hardly contain his excitement because he knows where he is headed. This reaction alone is remarkable for our family.”

“While typical children are scheduling play dates and other activities, our children’s lives are about therapies. I say children’s because Carter’s little brother Jackson, who is 10 months old, attends every session.  We spend a lot of time at UCP-OC and are grateful it is a home away from home for us. The support and love we receive from everyone is amazing. UCP-OC has really given our son a great opportunity to reach a Life Without Limits,” said Melissa.

Some of Carter’s favorite things include swimming, going for walks, spending any moment possible with our whole family, playing with his little brother and bath time.

Carter with his therapist
Carter with his occupational therapist, Jenn

His therapists Vanessa and Jenn recently took Carter to the park for a co-treatment session in celebration of all he has accomplished in the last few months. By having multiple disciplines all under one roof, UCP-OC’s team of exceptional therapists and child development professionals work together to ensure each child has the services needed to reach their full potential. Carter also receives speech therapy one-on-one with Megan and in group with Pati. Jenn shared  “I am so proud to have such an incredible group of co-workers like Vanessa, Megan, and Pati and kiddos like Carter that continue to amaze me every day. It’s the teamwork that makes the dream work!”

Carter still has work to do catch up developmentally, but he is making great progress and has the support he needs to do so. We can’t wait to see what he will do next! As Melissa said, “he is our biggest inspiration and driving force. If Carter can do it, it can be done. ” And Carter has proven he can do anything he puts his mind to.

Carter and his family are Stepping Up for UCP-OC so that children like Carter have access to the services they need to thrive. Join in this Steptember to improve your health and wellness and help children with disabilities live a Life Without Limits. Create a team of 4 and challenge yourself to take 10,000 steps per day until September 29. Or show your support of Carter’s family by making a donation in their name here.

Volunteer Spotlight – Dimitri Ingram

Summer is abuzz at UCP-OC with volunteers who commit their free time to helping children with disabilities live a Life Without Limits, and college student Dimitri Ingram spent 3 days per week for 2 months dedicated to promoting our Steptember Wellness Challenge, which starts tomorrow, and helping with Bike Camp. When asked about his favorite experiences, Dimitri said he really loved every minute at UCP-OC but will never forget Bike Camp, and one camper in particular, Steven. Here’s Dimitri’s experience in his own words:

Steven’s proud smile after self starting!

“My name is Dimitri Ingram. I have had the pleasure of volunteering at the UCPOC all summer. I really love working at the UCPOC because the feeling of knowing you are doing everything possible to help children with developmental disabilities is so rewarding. The highlight of my experience is helping out at Bike Camp 2015. I remember working very hard one session with Steven. I wanted him to be able to self start. So I showed him how and then had him try. He had difficulty doing it. He was so close and I was jumping around so excited telling him that he was so close and saying that he could do it. He kept trying and trying but to no avail. So eventually I let him go get some water and take a break. Two minutes left until the end of session, I told him that I wasn’t giving up on him and told him we have to try it one more time. Steven got on the bike and after pushing his feet off the ground 3 times, I shouted, “Get on the peddles!” Everyone in the parking structure held their breath at that moment. Steven lifted his feet up, caught the peddles underneath them and started peddling! Everyone cheered louder than ever before. I cheered so loudly and jumped into the air so high that my keys went flying across the parking structure! When he finished, I gave him the biggest hug I have ever given. Steven worked so hard and I am so proud of him!”

We’re proud of you too, Dimitri. Thanks for all your hard work this year!

For those who want to know more about Steptember. September 2-29, thousands of people from around the world will Step Up their fitness to raise awareness and funds for vital programs for children and adults living with disabilities and their families.

The average office worker only takes about 3,000 steps per day – not enough to keep us as healthy and active as we should be – so each participant will challenge themselves to take 10,000 steps per day and share their participation with family and friends. Ready to Step Up too? Visit www.steptember.us and register your team or make a donation. Make sure to choose UCP of Orange County so your commitment changes lives right here in our community.


Ride On, Bike Campers!

From August 10-14, 2015, 35 children and young adults with special needs and 120 volunteers came together at Soka University for UCP-OC’s annual Bike Camp, hosted in partnership with Down Syndrome Association of Orange County. Learning to ride a bike is a quintessential childhood experience, but it can be especially challenging for children with special needs. Through the iCanShine program’s adapted bikes and specially trained staff, learning to ride a bike goes from a daunting undertaking to a proud accomplishment.

Arissa with her volunteers
Arissa with her volunteers

Bike Camper Arissa is 10 years old and always wanted to learn to ride a bike but was scared to do so. Her grandmother, Anita, stumbled across a page about it while searching online for training wheels. Anita is so glad that Arissa can now ride a bike because she believes that being able to ride a bike is a vital part of being a kid. She will never forget the huge smile of joy on Arrissa’s face when she was riding the bike at camp, especially the tandem bike. Arissa and Anita agree that the volunteers and staff were fantastic – motivational, dedicated, and fun! We hope you enjoy this interview with them.

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