Mandy Graduated Kindergarten with Help from UCP-OC


Picture1Six-year-old Mandy has been receiving therapy at UCP-OC for more than three years to help her reach her full developmental potential. She was born with Down syndrome and experienced a wide range of resulting medical issues, including a seizure disorder that caused as many as 100 episodes per day. While doctors were able to stop the seizures, the damage they caused created significant delay in Mandy’s development. Perhaps most devastating to her parents, Natalie and Dan, was the possibility that their beautiful daughter might never speak.

Today, while at UCP-OC for her weekly physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions, you’d never know Mandy had any issue communicating. At the conclusion of her last session, this vibrant, happy little girl waltzed up to her mother and started vividly describing the artwork she created – “I made a rainbow – with green, blue, orange, yellow and red.”

Picture2Natalie shared how thrilled she is with the services they receive at UCP-OC, stating “it is amazing to see the things Mandy has accomplished directly because of the therapy she has received here.” Perhaps one of the most notable – Mandy graduated from a fully-included kindergarten class this June – an accomplishment that could not have been achieved without the tremendous developmental progress she has gained through ongoing intensive therapy at UCP-OC.

Your support and partnership is essential to helping children like Mandy go above and beyond expected developmental limitations. From all of us at UCP-OC, thank you!

This is our cover story from the Connections Newsletter, summer edition. Read the entire newsletter here.

Inclusive Childcare Participant Kimberly Named Her Club’s Member of the Month

Picture1At UCP-OC, our 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 is central to everything we do. One of the ways we strive toward this mission on a daily basis is through our Inclusive Childcare program.

Children with special needs can thrive in traditional after-school settings like the Boys & Girls Club, but often require extra help in order to do so. With the support of Inclusive Childcare, children receive the individualized attention they need to participate in their local after-school program so their parents can work to support the family.

Picture2Kimberly, age thirteen, has Down syndrome and is deaf. When she first joined our program, she was struggling to participate in her after-school program, but our Inclusion Team knew that with proper support and continued encouragement, Kimberly had the potential for full inclusion in a typical after-school program.

Nearly seven years later, we have been able to watch Kimberly grow into a strong and independent young teenager who now enjoys every activity available to her. In fact, she has become an exemplary participant at the club, which is why she was named their Member of the Month for June 2015!

The program has also been of great benefit to Kimberly’s mother, Christa, who works full time. She has the peace of mind on a daily basis that her daughter is in a safe and supportive environment, allowing her to focus on work responsibilities in order to provide for her family.  She shared “I am so proud of Kimberly’s recognition and know she couldn’t have done it without UCP-OC. The Inclusive Childcare program has really helped her to blossom.”

Read more about our programs in our Connections Newsletter.

Life Without Limits Gala a Huge Success!

Dear Friends,

We’ve had an incredible year at UCP-OC. In the last twelve months, we have provided an incredible 75,000 direct hours of service to more than 3,700 children and families  throughout Orange County.

This work would not be possible without  support from the community, and our Life Without Limits Gala is our annual celebration of our generous contributors and the families we serve.

I am proud to report this year’s Life Without Limits Gala was truly the best yet, raising a record $657,000 to fund our core programs.

Kathy and Chris Dubia were honored with the first-ever Legacy Award while Allergan received the Corporate Impact Award.  For more than two decades, they have supported and shaped UCP-OC to meet growing community needs.

UCP-OC families served as event ambassadors ensuring the mission and vision of a Life Without Limits for children with disabilities remained the evening’s focal point.

Special thanks are owed to many, including our Gala Co-Chairs Dana Dowers and Matthew Maletta, the Honorary Committee, our Family Ambassadors and volunteers. The contributions of our generous event sponsors and donors will make a lasting impact on the lives of children served at UCP-OC on a daily basis. Thank you to all who made this event a resounding success.

Deborah Levy Signature_Blue

President & CEO

UCP-OC Celebrates a Life Without Limits This March

March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, and March 25 is National CP Awareness Day. It also happens to be Developmental Disabilities Month. In celebration of this important month, we invite you to take a moment to share with your friends, family and co-workers why UCP-OC is important to you. #cerebralpalsycan #CPawareness #LifeWithoutLimits #DDaware

N_021402_140913-5509f12186498Not sure what to share? We love Khloe’s story. She’s one of the amazing children UCP-OC is honored to help reach her full potential.

Three year old twins Khloe and Teagan have always been good sharers. In fact, they were so good at sharing their mother, Jasmyn’s, womb, that doctors didn’t know there were two babies until 24 weeks into the pregnancy. The girls were born at 37 weeks, just two ounces apart, despite twin-to-twin transfusion, which often results in one baby being much smaller than the other. Both girls appeared to be very healthy, until six months later, when it became clear that there were developmental differences between the two girls.

Khloe was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of the stroke she suffered near birth. Luckily, Khloe’s symptoms are mild to moderate, and with her go-getter personality, she has made exceptional progress through United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County’s multi-disciplinary pediatric therapy. Khloe has received physical, occupational, and speech therapy at UCP-OC for more than a year and a half and she has shown tremendous improvement. In fact, Khloe is walking and talking much like her sister Teagan – it just takes a little more effort. She even attends the same preschool as her sister.

“UCP-OC gave us hope that, with a lot of hard work, Khloe could do everything Teagan can. With treatment and encouragement from her team of therapists, Khloe is not only achieving developmental milestones, but she also has built up incredible confidence with each obstacle she overcomes.” – Jasmyn, Khloe and Teagan’s Mother

Spotlight: Tosh’s Life Without Limits with Therapy from UCP-OC

     Tosh in the NICU.

All of us at United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County are grateful for the opportunity to help children with disabilities to achieve their full potential, and we couldn’t do it without support from our community. Two-and-a-half-year-old Tosh is an example of the tremendous impact UCP-OC has on children born with or at risk for developing a disability. Tosh’s birth was far from typical. He was delivered stillborn by emergency C-section after an Amniotic Fluid Embolism took his mother’s life. Miraculously, doctors were able to resuscitate him, but little Tosh spent the first three weeks of his life in the NICU faced with a variety of health issues related to his traumatic birth, including a very high risk for cerebral palsy.

When Tosh was released from the hospital, his father Jody was referred to UCP-OC immediately for early intervention therapy. Tosh received weekly therapy sessions at UCP-OC for a year and a half which focused on strengthening his body to sit, crawl, stand, and eventually walk. Progress was slow at first, but through the dedication of his therapist and Jody’s commitment to his son’s progress, this Miracle Baby has done it again – he “graduated” from our therapy program. He is now considered developmentally typical – walking, talking, and functioning as his two-and-a-half-year-old peers do.

Tosh, now developmentally typical, enjoying the beach.

“Without UCP-OC I have no doubt Tosh would have significant developmental delays today. I am grateful every day for the care and treatment UCP-OC has provided to our family.” – Jody

UCP-OC not only provides top-quality care for children with disabilities, like Tosh, but is also an invaluable resource for parents, like Jody. No husband and first-time father expects to mourn the passing of his beloved wife on the same day he celebrates the birth of his son. Add to that the challenges Tosh faced for his own survival, and you can see what an incredibly difficult situation Jody was experiencing. Jody says that “throughout the entire process, I always knew UCP-OC was my partner in caring for Tosh. UCP-OC was a home to us, and the staff a part of our family.” Tosh’s success would not be possible without your support.

It’s Autism Awareness Month, and Deen’s Living a Life Without Limits with UCP-OC

Deen and Knobby
Deen and Knobby

As you know, September is Autism Awareness Month. But did you also know that 33% of children served by UCP-OC have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum? UCP-OC helps children, like Deen, with autism spectrum disorder to achieve their full potential and provides important services and support for their families.

Deen has been receiving childcare services from UCP-OC for a year and it has made a huge difference in his life, as well as his mom’s. He is autistic and completely deaf on one side, and also suffers from high anxiety and sensory integration disorder. These challenges make most activities much more difficult for Deen, including school and social interaction. UCP-OC’s Inclusive Childcare program helps Deen and his service dog, Knobby, to participate in an inclusive after-school program with the support he needs to be safe and thrive. This program provides great therapeutic and social benefits for Deen while allowing his mom, who is a single mother, to work full time to support them.

He is obsessed with the military and is going to be a fighter pilot and a captain when he grows up.  He also loves transformers, swimming, Star Wars, amusement parks, go karts, and anything active or athletic.

UCP-OC is proud to feature Deen in our upcoming annual report, which will be released later this fall. Keep an eye out for the report to learn more about Deen and his Life Without Limits.

Spotlight: Beau’s Life Without Limits with Early Intervention from UCP-OC

At United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (UCP-OC), our vision of a Life Without Limits for children with disabilities is central to all that we do. One of our core programs is Early Intervention, which helped Beau to overcome his developmental delays. This is Beau’s story.

Beau at 12 months old.

At 9 months old, Beau’s mother Carrie began to notice developmental delays in her son. Beau was not crawling and Beau’s physician encouraged Carrie to contact the Regional Center of Orange County, where Beau was then referred for occupational therapy.

Carrie chose UCP-OC’s Early Intervention services, and she is extremely grateful that she did. Early Intervention takes advantage of the window of opportunity in child development from birth to 5 years of age to promote optimal development. Infants and toddlers, like Beau, in Early Intervention programs have a greater chance of reaching their full potential, and are often able to overcome developmental delays before they attend preschool.

Proof that Beau doesn’t mind beans anymore!

Ria, one of UCP-OC’s occupational therapists, determined that Beau had sensory issues; he wasn’t crawling because he didn’t like the feeling of the ground and he was gagging because he didn’t like the feeling of food in his mouth. Ria worked with Beau to mitigate his sensory aversions, exposing him to different textures, such as beans, rice, and balls. He didn’t like this at first, Carrie notes, but within three weeks of starting therapy with Ria, Beau was finally crawling, and he now enjoys a well-balanced diet. He has also come to enjoy the sensation of different textures, and beans have become his favorite toy, even at home!

“At UCP-OC, I not only know that Beau is in good hands, but I also know I can count on the therapists and staff to support me as a first-time parent. UCP-OC has provided Beau with the therapy he needed and me with guidance to be a better parent to him.” – Carrie

At 14 months old, Beau had made some incredible improvements, but Carrie noticed that he was still only babbling. Carrie knew she could rely on Ria to give her guidance. Ria had Beau’s speech evaluated, and soon Beau started with 1-on-1 speech therapy sessions with Pati and joined UCP-OC’s Let’s Talk program, a toddler group aimed at improving cognition, language, and play skills for children who have developmental delays and other communication challenges. Let’s Talk helped Beau with his speech, and Carrie found the social component valuable to Beau as well as to herself. They have both made close friends, and Beau has also learned to help children with more significant delays than his, like his good friend Donovan.

Beau enjoying a popsicle; a treat he would not be able to enjoy without occupational therapy.

Beau turns 3 years old today. Happy birthday, Beau! He loves music, singing, and playing the guitar. He plays baseball and basketball and enjoys watching hockey. He likes trucks, but his favorite toy is still beans, and he seems to love nothing more than to yell “beans, beans, beans”. Thanks to the services at UCP-OC, Beau will have no lifelong disabilities, and with his funny and charming personality, he is sure to be the jokester in class when he attends preschool in September.

Spotlight: Nathan’s Life Without Limits with Respite from UCP-OC

At United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (UCP-OC), our vision of a Life Without Limits for children with disabilities is central to all that we do. In addition to providing the therapies and resources children with special needs require to achieve their full potential, UCP-OC seeks to improve the quality of life for families like Nathan’s. This is Nathan’s story.

Nathan at 18 months old.

As an infant, Nathan was delayed on all developmental milestones. Shortly before his 2nd birthday, he was diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy. At 6 years old, non-verbal and exhibiting self-stimulatory behaviors such as staring intently at the ceiling fan, Nathan was also diagnosed with autism.

Nathan and his parents, Derrick and Julie, have found a great support system in family, friends, and their local community. One thing Julie was missing, though, was time to herself. She felt strongly that since she works full-time as a teacher, she needed to spend all of her free time with Nathan.

Then, when Nathan was 15, Julie was introduced to UCP-OC’s Respite and Childcare programs, which provide childcare support and  temporary relief to those caring for people with special needs. Yvette Staggs, UCP-OC’s Director of Respite & Childcare, helped Julie to realize that the entire family’s quality of life could be improved with the support of UCP-OC’s skilled, compassionate respite workers. She also pushed Julie to encourage Nathan’s independence.

 “Nathan is a remarkable young man with an endless amount of opportunity. His fun-loving personality makes Nathan a joy to be around.  Nathan’s drive to know more, his desire to increase his independence, and the endless support that surrounds him serve as a reminder of what a Life Without Limits truly means.” – Yvette Staggs, Director of Respite & Childcare

Nathan with his respite worker.
Nathan with his respite worker.

While Julie gets to enjoy musicals like Jersey Boys with her friends and paddle boarding with Derrick, Nathan spends quality time with his current respite worker, Christy. Christy and Nathan go out to lunch or visit the pier. Christy always encourages Nathan to be independent – to feed himself and use the Proloquo app on his iPad to communicate. Julie never has to worry about Nathan, because he always comes home with a smile on his face.

“UCP has given us a great quality of life. From knowing that Yvette is always there to provide support and advice, to the comradery and confidence Nathan gets from time with his respite worker, and the motivation to encourage Nathan’s independence, UCP-OC has made a big impact on our lives.” – Julie

This focus on his independence helped Nathan secure one of 24 coveted spots in a local Independent Living Skills program. Julie and Derrick are grateful to UCP-OC for helping them to realize Nathan’s potential and always pushing them to encourage his independence. UCP-OC is proud of all of Nathan’s accomplishments and to play a significant role in his Life Without Limits.

Life Without Limits Gala a Huge Success

United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County proudly hosted the 2014 Life Without Limits Gala this past Friday, May 9. The event was a great success, raising more than $435,000 for UCP-OC’s core programs benefiting nearly 4,000 children and families affected by disabilities in our community.
Guests enjoyed live music, a photo booth, extensive live and silent auctions, a gourmet 4-course meal, and some special surprises from our UCP-OC ambassadors, including special musical performances.
Azalea led her fellow ambassadors in a performance of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in honor of Individual Impact Award Recipient and Chairman of Angels Baseball, Dennis Kuhl. After the live auction, guests were wowed by Sydney’s beautiful violin solo and Juneau’s moving performance of Bette Midler’s “The Rose” for their favorite doctor and our Medical Impact Honoree Dr. Michael Muhonen. Corporate Impact Award Recipient Edwards Lifesciences had a surprise of their own for the ambassadors – gift cards for a family outing for each of them!
You can relive the magic of the evening by watching the opening video and viewing our photo gallery.

UCP-OC 2014 Life Without Limits Gala Video

Recent studies show a staggering statistic that 1 in 6 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a developmental disability. UCP-OC proudly serves the 1 in 6 children in our community that make up this statistic.


Learn more about the services UCP-OC provides:

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